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Wiedersehn, D855

First line:
Der Frühlingssonne holdes Lächeln
September 1825; first published in 1843 as a supplement to the book Lebensbilder aus Österreich
author of text

This is one of the most enchanting of Schubert's unknown songs. It would certainly have won greater fame if it had been published in the Peters Edition and thus accessible to more singers. The music has the measured tread of joy to be found in some of Handel's music where steady mezzo staccato chords underpin a vocal line which unfolds with spacious elegance (for instance 'Va tacito' from Giulio Cesare). A seamless legato melody challenges the singer with its leaps and tessitura changes, while the accompaniment maintains its own quietly bouncing momentum; this crotchet movement is irresistible and sets the toe quietly tapping. The introduction even manages to suggest the presence of an obbligato instrument in the Handelian manner, although a duet between the voice and accompaniment fails to materialise here, except in a few cadential exchanges. In the second half of the song the movement of the inner parts of seemingly simple chords in the accompaniment, and the discoveries of new beauties within an old vocabulary (the suspension under 'Liedes raschem Flügel' for example), show the skill of an eighteenth-century master. The word 'Aufgebot' is given an elegant turn which is answered by a similar ornament in the piano. (Ornamentation of this kind in Schubert's music sometimes suggests the influence of Vogl who may indeed have been the first to perform this song, albeit in a lower key than the original).

It might seem puzzling that Wiedersehn dates from the holiday in Steyr/Gmunden/Gastein in 1825, about the same time that Schubert wrote the Great C major Symphony and Die Allmacht, for it is as intimate as the Pyrker setting is monumental. But Schubert was always capable of working on many different-sized canvases at the same time. Another underestimated song comes to mind from the same period—the serenade of Florio from Schütz's Lacrimas—which also boasts a rather ornate vocal line over a simple strummed accompaniment. After a long period of depression over his illness, the composer was happy again at last and this is surely reflected in this music which manages to be both joyful and relaxed at the same time. The simplicity of the song is deceptive, for it is full of Schubertian mastery at every turn, above all in the shaping of the melody which has an irresistible flow. Note the deliciously cheeky jump of a seventh at 'Lächeln' in the poem's first line, and the way that even the shape of the music illustrates the text: on the printed page 'Ich komm', und über Tal und Hügel' descends by stages to the valley, and then moves up the stave again to hilly territory. The word 'Flügel' (wings) prompts the biggest interval in the piece, an octave jump in Schubert's best open-hearted manner. We are fooled into believing that the phrase 'Schweb, auf des Liedes raschem Flügel, der Gruss der Liebe zu dir hin' is to be repeated in its entirety, but at the last moment an ornamented cadence, with triplets in the vocal line which occur only at this point, brings the strophe to its inevitable end. The toe is still tapping, and we are ready for the da capo. The piano has played such a minimal part in this song in terms of Schubert's usual use of motifs and figurations that we feel we have listened to an aria rather than a Lied, but Wiedersehn is none the worse for that. Indeed, here simplicity seems the result of distillation rather than any lack of inspiration.

from notes by Graham Johnson © 1996


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Track 4 on CDJ33027 [2'41] Archive Service; also available on CDS44201/40
Track 11 on CDS44201/40 CD30 [2'41] Boxed set + book (at a special price) — Download only

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