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Blanka, D631

First line:
Wenn mich einsam Lüfte fächeln
December 1818; first published in 1885 in volume 7 of the Peters Edition
author of text

Blanka was written in December 1818; this and Vom Mitleiden Mariä are the earliest Schubert settings of Friedrich von Schlegel. Both poems appear in the Poetisches Taschenbuch for 1806. This must have been Schubert's source as Blanka is printed under this title (which was not retained in the complete Gedichte), and Vom Mitleiden Mariä appears nowhere else (the authenticity of Schlegel as its author has been questioned). Blanka (under the title of Das Mädchen) was reprinted in the Gedichte (1809) as the last of nine 'Ansichten' or 'Views', a subdivision of a larger poetic cycle of thirty-one poems entitled Stimmen der Liebe ('Voices of Love'). Although the poem does not come from Abendröte, it bears a considerable resemblance to Das Mädchen earlier on this disc. Both songs are poised between what might be termed major- and minor-key feelings - the 'Lachen und Weinen' dichotomy which Schubert loves so much. The alternation between A major and A minor in Das Mädchen, and between A minor and A major in Blanka, is the purest of Schubert, and one which he reserves for situations which touch him greatly. Both girls also confess an inability to voice their feelings. Blanka's diffidence is reflected by an alternation of long phrases ('Wenn mich einsam Lüfte fächeln') with short ones ('Muss ich lächeln'). This is a metrical feature of the first eight lines of Schlegel's poem which somehow reinforces the idea of the girl's vulnerability, as sentences seem to trail away unfinished. Schubert aids and abets this impression most beautifully with sighing figurations in the accompaniment of two quavers gently phrased away which suggest the wilting of roses on the stem. This is a masterful musical evocation of evanescence. The pauses between the phrases (with little echoing phrases in the piano) evoke the hard concentration needed to play a game of 'He loves me; he loves me not'. The poem's last four lines allow the girl's feeling to blossom as if she is no longer afraid, and has suddenly found her voice; mention of music in the middle section of Das Mädchen from Abendröte achieves a similar effect. The triplet accompaniment in compound time with a slower legato vocal line above it is related to the celebrated Lied der Mignon, another song about a young girl who is apprehensive of what fate has to offer her, and who also sings in A minor.

from notes by Graham Johnson © 1996


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Track 8 on CDJ33009 [2'02] Archive Service; also available on CDS44201/40
Track 4 on CDS44201/40 CD21 [2'02] Boxed set + book (at a special price) — Download only
Track 19 on CDJ33027 [2'12] Archive Service; also available on CDS44201/40

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