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Track(s) taken from CDJ33011

So lasst mich scheinen 'Mignon II', D727

Third setting. April 1821; first published in 1850 in volume 48 of the Nachlass
author of text

Brigitte Fassbaender (soprano), Graham Johnson (piano)
Recording details: June 1990
Rosslyn Hill Unitarian Chapel, Hampstead, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Mark Brown
Engineered by Antony Howell
Release date: May 1991
Total duration: 3 minutes 39 seconds


'Magnificent. Collectors of this series need not hesitate, and newcomers who try this volume are in serious danger of addiction' (American Record Guide)

'19 tracks devoted to some of the greatest songs ever written' (Classic CD)

'Superb … a disc to return to time and again' (CDReview)

'Fassbaender has never been in better form … I urge you to collect them all, not only for the genius of Schubert but also because they are an anthology of the finest singers of our time' (Musical Opinion)

'Deserves to be enshrined as a classic' (The New Yorker, USA)
Another Goethe character, and another example, in its original key, of the importance of B minor/major in summoning up a certain atmosphere redolent of the inevitability of death. It shares with Nacht und Träume—a B major song about sleep, that little death—a high-lying vocal part supported by a low-lying accompaniment, the distance between the two creating a certain exaltation and tension. In Chapter Two of the Eighth book of Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre, Wilhelm's beloved Natalie has arranged for the appearance of an gift-bearing angel to the children in her care. This role has been assigned to Mignon who is desperately ill. She appears in a long white dress, a golden girdle round her waist and her hair wreathed in gold; she also has a pair of golden wings, and enters carrying a lily in one hand and a basket in the other. Once the smaller children have received their gifts they recognize Mignon beneath her disguise and quiz her about her costume. It is clear she regards this angelic form on earth as a prelude to the new incarnation she is soon to assume in the afterlife. She is allowed to keep her costume which makes her happier in her last days.

This is Schubert's second (and first complete) attempt at setting this Mignon poem. It has been obscured by the success of Op 62 No 3 (D877) written five years later, and incidentally also in the key of B major. Some of the commentators have felt that this setting is the better of Schubert's two evocations of the delicate spirit of the waif Mignon, but I disagree. The earlier setting may be simpler, but there is something sublimely shy and other-worldly about the hesitant metre (in triple time) of D877 which makes teghe more square, alla breve, progress of D727 sound relatively earthbound. D877, in an uncanny evocation of pale complexion and translucent garb, floats and wafts on a spaced-out 6-4 pedal. It could scarcely be bettered (Hugo Wolf's So lasst mich scheinen apart) as a picture of Mignon, although D727, with an ominous variant of the death motif for an introduction, has in its favour passion, pathos and a generously sweeping vocal line which melts to the major in just the right place at the secof nd verse; the same modulation is less effective with regard to the words the second time around.

Like Der König in Thule, the text has as many interpretations as it has composers and interpreters. Goethe's characters, as even punctilious connoisseurs of literature like Wolf knew in casting his version of Mignon's Kennst du das Land? as an overwhelming dramatic utterance, live well outside their strict literary contexts, and become archetypes of the human condition. Thus the dying Mignon has life in her yet as a mezzo apart from her more familiar soubrette incarnation.

from notes by Graham Johnson © 1991

Other albums featuring this work

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