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Jägers Abendlied, D215

First line:
Im Felde schleich’ ich, still und wild
First setting; first published in 1907 in Die Musik
author of text

Like Schäfers Klagelied Schubert treats this as a poem of country life – a window into the emotions of working men whose duties take them far from their beloveds. Goethe wrote this poem soon after he had parted from Lili Schönemann and when Charlotte von Stein was already beginning to take a central role in his life. The hunter in this case is the poet himself, perhaps casting himself in this role because of the various field exploits in which he was expected to take part with his new friend the Duke of Weimar. As Nicholas Boyle has written: 'In Jägers Abendlied memories of Lili Schönemann mingle uncertainly with thoughts of the distant Charlotte, so that the restless poet's own identity seems to lose its fixity'.

Schubert has somehow caught this uncertainty, the nebulous floating emotions of a temporarily lost soul, in the first setting of the song which did not surface in time to be published in the Gesamtausgabe and has only become widely available relatively recently in the Neue Schubert Ausgabe. The idea of the beloved's image hovering seems immediately to suggest to the composer the long-spun melodies of bel canto (this version is an indication of how strongly Salieri has passed on a feel for the Italian style to his pupil). The music is prophetic of Blondel zu Marien of 1818 in which the same idea of a distant and magical beloved summons up an ornate aria full of melisma and ornamentation. The accompaniment is supportive rather than atmospheric: arpeggiated chords in the opening yield to somewhat anonymous flowing triplets. As appropriate to an aria of this genre it is the melody and harmony (there is an adventurous modulation to A flat from the home key of F at 'ach mein schnell verrauschend Bild') which carry the song.

Goethe's poem contains four strophes. In this setting Schubert uses the first two to make the one verse of music heard here. It seems likely that he then realised that the third strophe, rather different in mood, was unsuitable for the musical treatment he had devised (he also leaves this strophe out in the second setting) and abandoned the song. In order to jettison a strophe of Goethe he would have to invent a musical structure which used only one of the poet's verses at a time. This he was to do in due course.

from notes by Graham Johnson © 1995


Schubert: The Complete Songs
CDS44201/40Boxed set + book (at a special price) — Download only
Schubert: The Hyperion Schubert Edition, Vol. 24
CDJ33024Archive Service; also available on CDS44201/40


Track 12 on CDJ33024 [1'33] Archive Service; also available on CDS44201/40
Track 8 on CDS44201/40 CD7 [1'33] Boxed set + book (at a special price) — Download only

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