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Track(s) taken from CDJ33017

Lebenslied, D508

First line:
Kommen und Scheiden
December 1816; first published in 1845 in volume 38 of the Nachlass
author of text

Lucia Popp (soprano), Graham Johnson (piano)
Recording details: April 1992
Rosslyn Hill Unitarian Chapel, Hampstead, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Martin Compton
Engineered by Antony Howell
Release date: April 1993
Total duration: 2 minutes 32 seconds


'Piano-playing, notes and recording all enhance the virtues of this rewarding disc, which will surely be a thing of joy for many years to come' (Gramophone)

'A moving and fitting memorial to one of the loveliest and most beloved singers' (The Sunday Times)

'Another triumph' (Hi-Fi News)
The manuscript of this work is solemnly marked with the words 'In the house of Herr von Schober'. The two songs from December 1816 both have this inscription and both show us much more of a serious young man than the eighteen-year-old of the beginning of the year. Schubert seems to be searching for a philosophy of life. From the diary entry of 8 September we know that he has come under the influence of Johann Mayrhofer, and that in the autumn of the year he had not only turned his back on the possibility of marriage to Therese Grob, but had left home (at least for a period) and lodged with Franz von Schober. He was determined to make a life of his own surrounded and supported by friends of similar tastes and ideals. It is hardly surprising then that he should have been attracted to this poem of Matthisson, the last by that poet that he was to set; it reads like the succession of noble aphorisms that Schubert had attempted to pen on the night of 8 September, before sleep overtook him.

There is great strength and resolve in this music; it is in C major but it is actually full of chromatic highways and byways as wide-ranging as Matthisson's ambitions and sentiments. There is a mood here of resolute chorale, sometimes cheerful and optimistic but hijacked by doubts from time to time; if Herbstlied is about the resolve of working folk, Lebenslied is a similar charter for the thinkers and creators. The vocal line is doubled by ominous octaves at 'Armuth und Fülle, Verödung und Pracht'. The repeat of the phrase 'wechseln auf Erden wie Dämmrung und Nacht' is masterfully done: the first time the dark suspensions depict the uncertainty of the half light leading to a cadence in E flat, but the second moves triumphantly back into C major with the feeling of an answered question and a solved riddle. The five bars of postlude are of the utmost determination. They stride forward, a rising phrase in the piano's left hand, with the air of a man with a mission. This little known song has been neglected by singers and scholars alike. It shares something of the mood of the Senn setting Selige Welt, even to the extent of a verse which mentions a ship coming into a harbour. It is one of those relatively rare works which reveal to us the underlying philosophy of the Schubert circle. Lebenslied no doubt reflects the content of the idealistic conversations of the composer and his friends as they talked far into the night, Schubert delighting in his new-found freedom.

from notes by Graham Johnson © 1993

Other albums featuring this work

Schubert: The Complete Songs
CDS44201/4040CDs Boxed set + book (at a special price)
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