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Track(s) taken from CDA68010

Der Wanderer, D649

First line:
Wie deutlich des Mondes Licht
February 1819; published by Cappi und Czerny in November 1826 as Op 65 No 2
author of text

Florian Boesch (baritone), Roger Vignoles (piano)
Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
Studio Master:
Studio Master:
Recording details: November 2012
All Saints' Church, East Finchley, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Mark Brown
Engineered by David Hinitt
Release date: February 2014
Total duration: 2 minutes 24 seconds

Cover artwork: The Wanderer Above the Sea of Mist (1818) by Caspar David Friedrich (1774-1840)

Other recordings available for download

Matthias Goerne (baritone), Graham Johnson (piano)


'Florian Boesch is the kind of baritone who, once heard, makes you want to hear him in any and all repertoire appropriate to his voice. A more alluringly rich voice than Christian Gerhaher’s is hard to imagine until hearing Boesch, who has a greater capacity for soft singing, maintaining an interpretatively interesting tone even in pianissimos … Boesch isn’t the sort of singer who tells you what to think or feel in this music. He lays it out with hugely attractive (and protracted) clarity and then lets you enter the music a fuller participant' (Gramophone)

'Boesch's singing is faultless: he's in fine voice and marvellously alert to every verbal nuance, without ever fracturing the line for the sake of the text. Vignoles, playing some of Schubert's most taxing accompaniments, tirelessly matches his every emotional shift. Very fine' (The Guardian)» More

'Florian Boesch and Roger Vignoles are two of the best performers of Lieder in our time … Boesch sings with the gentle sadness which pervades most of the songs that follow, his rich, true baritone voice reflective rather than assertive, the words all the more moving for the restraint with which they are delivered … this fine disc, pervaded with sadness though it is, has a great deal to offer those who love Schubert’s songs. There is an excellent booklet note by Richard Wigmore, and his own very good translations' (International Record Review)» More

'The Romantic outsider fated or choosing to live beyond the bounds of society is the main theme of this striking collection. Boesch, who recently released a powerfully convincing Schöne Müllerin cycle, has an ideal voice, at once dark and dazzling, and his accompanist —except that Schubert's rich, inventive piano parts are so much more than accompaniments—is perfect' (The Sunday Times)» More
This is a song of strange and haunting beauty. It is a fittingly atmospheric introduction to the second half of Schlegel's Abendröte where twilight has given way to night. It was this section of the poetic cycle which first inspired the composer to music, and from the listener's point of view it seems to be the most personal poem among the Abendröte songs in that Schubert himself seems to have identified with the text. In his younger years he was susceptible (as indeed are most German speakers) to aphorism and homily, both as reader and writer, and this poem seems to have chimed with his mood; indeed 'Steige mutig, singe heiter' ('I climb boldly, singing merrily'), which seems custom-made to describe his unremitting industry and no-nonsense attitude to work, reads like an entry from his 1816 diary. But other images in the text also seem appropriate to his life. He follows the 'old tracks', firmly grounded in the tradition of Mozart and Beethoven; but he is also determined to carve out a separate path from his great predecessors, 'moving on and going forth to other places'. He also needs to leave home, and his succession of lodgings over the years perhaps betokens an unwillingness to settle down. And the motto 'I see all things clearly in their gentle reflection' is apt for a composer of Schubert's sensibility - it is something that John Keats might have said as he wrote the poems which are contemporary with this song. It is above all the last phrase, 'Froh umgeben, doch alleine' ('There is joy all around, yet I am alone'), which has utterly Schubertian resonances. Even the most devoted lover of this composer's music can have little idea of the solitary nature of creativity on this scale. Schubert's towering achievements (and they could already be thus described in 1819) were unrecognised by even his closest friends. But loneliness is not only to do with a lack of profound appreciation. To write as much music as Schubert required an iron discipline, and thousands of hours of lonely manual labour; this alone meant less time with other human beings than an essentially gregarious man might find congenial. Nor was hard work of this kind the only reason for this loneliness. Every morning as he sat down at his work desk, Schubert entered regions where no one else could follow him. And when he returned from those uncharted territories of mind and imagination, there was no one with whom he could share the experience: the language of this unknown country was spoken by him alone. Some of his friends saw him at work and found him 'transfigured' by the heat of inspiration; he was 'somewhere else' at the time. To live and work in a land inaccessible to one's friends and contemporaries is both blessing and curse, and Schlegel's poem captures not only that dichotomy but also the essentially Schubertian desire to honour his musical forbears ('the old track') at the same time as finding new paths and solutions.

Schubert was always drawn to night pictures, and some of his greatest nocturnes were already behind him. We might be tempted to associate the composer's younger years with somewhat melodramatic evocations of dark mystery and foreboding (as in the Ossian setting Die Nacht for example, and Der Geistertanz) and his later years with more spiritual evening pictures (such as Im Freien, Nachthelle); but both genres of night-piece co-exist throughout his oeuvre. He was capable of writing lucid and transparent tributes to moonlight from early on, and some of the most beautiful (Die Sommernacht, Die frühen Gräber, An den Mond and Klage an den Mond) are songs from his teenage years. Der Wanderer is slightly later, but from its mood and texture it belongs to their number; it stands on the threshold between Schubert's youth and maturity.

The word 'deutlich' (`clearly') in the poem's opening phrase governs the mood of the work which is gently luminous throughout. The key is in D major like Der Pilgrim and the much later Der Kreuzzug, a clear sign that the composer felt that this traveller was on an important spiritual journey. Harmonic ambivalence sets in right at the beginning: the second crotchet in the accompaniment is a G sharp which makes the ear believe that the song is really in A major; when the vocal line begins it seems to be in the subdominant rather than the tonic. We never quite recover from this deliberate disorientating effect which lends a gentle plagal ambience to much of the song, as if it was floating unanchored in heavenly space. The use of the flattened sixth on 'schweren Tage', 'jeder Klage' and at the end on 'alleine' adds a twist of world-weariness and other-worldliness to what appears, at first glance, to be simple music. The moon is both inspiration and companion, a guiding light in the dark world. This is symbolised by the doubling of the voice and bass line, extensive even by Schubert's standards, and a technique he used when he wanted to underline the import of the words. The moon's aphoristic advice in inverted commas ('Folge treu dem alten Gleise') is given emphasis in this way, but the doubling serves also as a steadying guide-rail, enabling the singer to 'follow faithfully the old track'. At 'Fort zu andern sollst du wechseln' he progresses up a chromatic scale (more or less) and then picks his way down the stave in graduated steps of descending fourths; on these journeys through the wilds he is still gently shadowed and supported by the piano's left hand.

After the haunting cadence of 'jeder Klage' we are ushered into the second verse, for Schubert has somehow turned the poet's lines of irregular length, seemingly composer-unfriendly, into a flowing strophic song. We are almost unaware of the difficulties of the poem's shape, so smoothly and inevitably does one part progress to the next. The vocal line of the second part of the song is more or less the same as the first, but the accompaniment is another matter. Now it is the right hand which shadows the vocal line (under 'Ebb' und hohe Flut, tief im Mut, wandr' ich so im Dunkeln weiter') as if the guiding light were clearer still, streaming over the wanderer's right shoulder rather than his left. This doubling continues for only three bars. At 'Steige mutig, singe heiter' the voice, suddenly independent, finds itself undoubled for the first time, although not unaccompanied. The dotted-rhythm chords accompanying 'singe heiter' briefly establish a new concerted tone of resolve between voice and piano. 'Alles reine seh' ich mild im Widerscheine' ends with one of the most touching of Schubertian cadences, a crucial difference from the corresponding passage in the first verse. For a moment we can imagine the composer himself singing these words, transfigured, as his friends described, by a glimpse of beauty beyond the comprehension of lesser mortals like ourselves. An inner voice in the accompaniment doubles the last phrase, emblematic of the inner understanding which changes the blurred and confusing into something lucid and clear. A hushed cadence with plagal—and thus almost religious—overtones, ends one of the few songs in Schubert's canon which rank as both a personal and an artistic credo. (Some others are An die Musik, Trost im Liede, and Des Sängers Habe.)

from notes by Graham Johnson © 1996

Other albums featuring this work

Schubert: The Complete Songs
CDS44201/4040CDs Boxed set + book (at a special price)
Schubert: The Hyperion Schubert Edition, Vol. 27 - Matthias Goerne
CDJ33027Archive Service; also available on CDS44201/40
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