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Track(s) taken from CDH55275

Der Wanderer in der Sägemühle

First line:
Dort unten in der Mühle
1832; previously thought to be by Friedrich Wieck or Robert Schumann
author of text

Stephan Loges (baritone), Eugene Asti (piano)
Recording details: November 2000
Henry Wood Hall, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Mark Brown
Engineered by Tony Faulkner
Release date: January 2002
Total duration: 2 minutes 14 seconds

Other recordings available for download

Christopher Maltman (baritone), Graham Johnson (piano)


'Stephan Loges brings to his contributions the youthful warmth of his attractively vibrant baritone and his wonderful feeling for line and word … Lieder singing of the highest calibre … delightful … it is good to have all these songs, long hidden in libraries, available on CD' (Gramophone)

'I don't know how Hyperion keeps coming up with such fine young talent, but here we go again with another beautifully sung and superbly recorded effort from our English friends … excellent but seldom heard music, wonderful singing, fine engineering, and Hyperion's well-above-average documentation all add up to a thoroughly enjoyable experience' (American Record Guide)

'All three performers are excellent … this is a delightful issue; I shall often return to it' (International Record Review)

'This venture is invaluable, and thoroughly enjoyable' (The Guardian)

'Perfect diction makes the lyrics shiver with anticipation … sparkling accompaniment by Eugene Asti' (The Independent on Sunday)

'Thoroughly recommendable … fluid, attractive, fully committed performances' (Fanfare, USA)

'This treasurable CD kicks off my shortlist for 2002 CD of the Year, and will come often off my shelves. Song recital-planners, take note!' (Birmingham Post)

'Eloquent singing … ideally sensitive accompaniments' (Music Week)

'Anyone who cares about lieder singing and repertoire must have this disc … artful, sensitive, attentive, technically assured performances―absolutely first rate' (Classics Today)

'Un bon argument pour découvrir ces œuvres' (Répertoire, France)
Clara Wieck inscribed a copy of this song to her composition teacher Heinrich Dorn in Leipzig with the words ‘from your grateful student’. It is thus likely that she was the composer of this song, although some help from her father Friedrich Wieck is not out of the question.

The poem is perhaps more typical of Justinus Kerner than most on this disc. The anthropomorphic image of a talking tree is typical of the poet’s mystical regard for nature. The busy sawmill is a sign of the relentless progress of the Industrial Revolution which is impervious to the beauties and truths of nature. The wanderer in the middle of his rural idyll is surprised and uncomfortable to be confronted in this way; but he is part of the society which has made it increasingly necessary to employ mass production of this kind, and he must realise that this destruction is happening in his name. Quite apart from the intimations of his own mortality (the four planks will make Kerner’s coffin), the fir tree might also have reminded him that paper for the poet’s future books would also be squeezed from every fibre of its being. The traveller has to take responsibility for the destruction of the beauties which he casually takes for granted on his travels. Other Kerner settings, including some in Schumann’s Op 35 (eg. the penultimate song in the cycle Wer machte dich so krank?) demonstrate that this poet was one of the first who worried about man’s dangerous impact on his environment. This modern sentiment seems prophetic of the ‘green’ parties that are a powerful force today – in German politics, if nowhere else.

The prancing left-hand accompaniment with off-beat quaver chords in the right, does its best to suggest the grinding of the saw-mill, but it seems far too genial for this sinister purpose, and not quite dissonant enough, even by the harmonic standards of the time. The music appropriate to a mill is traditionally moto perpetuo (as here, and in Schubert’s Die schöne Müllerin) but this cheeky dance allows the narrator too little time to ponder, the tree too little time to grieve. As in the previous song the musical shape is allowed to dominate the text. The words are mirrored sensitively enough, but with this poem we somehow long for more of a frisson when the tree begins to speak – after all, the scene is worthy of Tolkien’s The Two Towers. Nevertheless, young Clara is here more than capable of creating a measure of mood and atmosphere to rival that of the young Robert. Song composition is no easy thing, but this little ballad is actually more successful as a piece of music than Schumann’s almost contemporary Kerner setting (An Anna II).

from notes by Graham Johnson © 2003

Other albums featuring this work

Schumann: The Complete Songs, Vol. 8 - Christopher Maltman, Jonathan Lemalu & Mark Padmore
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