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Track(s) taken from CDA68010

Der Schiffer, D536

First line:
Im Winde, im Sturme befahr’ ich den Fluss
Second version. March (?) 1817; published in 1823 as Op 21 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 3 seconds

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

Other recordings available for download

Stephen Varcoe (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
Although Schubert almost certainly set this poem as early as 1817, it was published later in Beiträge zur Bildung für Jünglinge, a type of Boys' Own Paper edited by Mayrhofer. This boatman is a role-model for the young of brave, manly behaviour in which Biedermeier morals comfortably meet Victorian values. The heroes of the English boys' paper would probably have suited the mood of rising German nationalism in Schubert's time. Wyndham Lewis described them thus: 'Tough conquering Nordics ... crammed with experience and philosophy... blundering through trackless forests and lethal swamps foiling villains of Latin origin'. Illustrations depicted these gallants in heroic profile, resolute, good looking, in control of life's tempests - in short all the things which this poet and this composer were not, but perhaps would have liked to be. Mayrhofer's passionate espousal of the ideals of Greek antiquity provides another clue to his desired self-image. He casts himself in this poem as a hero worthy of the Sacred Band. The wish-fulfilment fantasy of this picture perhaps robs us of the complete engagement we feel when a poem allows Schubert to create more vulnerable characters. But there is no doubt that this is a splendid piece of bravura, a good 'sing' composed, as Einstein says, 'in a single stroke'. In Der Strom, from the same year, the poet's life is compared with the water's erratic meanderings; in Der Schiffer the water, powerfully though it rages, is powerless to alter the boatman's course. Man is on the way to taming nature. The harmonic clashes on 'ich peitsche die Wellen' (and equivalent places) are particularly fine and there is yet another new piano figuration for water music, this time a wild force held on a tight leash by human willpower. Schubert responds magnificently to this set-piece challenge, and yet it must be said that the greatest Mayrhofer songs develop and change in their course, something which is denied to this single-minded tableau. If these words have a hollow ring to them it is because Mayrhofer's battle against the elements (or more particularly, the elements in society which he despised) was a Walter Mitty fantasy: however much he tried on the costume, Mayrhofer was no intrepid boatman. He never quite dared to stand openly against the prejudice and narrow mindedness of his times, and was even forced to work at a later date for the most authoritarian of employers, the Imperial Censor's office. The frustrations of Mayrhofer, the tender revolutionary, seem obvious to us now but these resentments lay hidden from most of his contemporaries, festering in his troubled mind. Writing subversive poetry like this (acceptable to the censor who of course wrongly assumed the boatman upheld traditional values) was a means of escape and release.

from notes by Graham Johnson © 1988

Other albums featuring this work

Schubert: The Complete Songs
CDS44201/4040CDs Boxed set + book (at a special price)
Schubert: The Hyperion Schubert Edition, Vol. 2 - Stephen Varcoe
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