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Die Liebesgötter, D446

First line:
Cypris, meiner Phyllis gleich
June 1816; first published in 1887 in Volume 7 of the Peters Edition
author of text

'One of Schubert's lesser gems' is how Capell classified this song - which seems about right. It is certainly not as well known as it should be, but it has a limited emotional scope which allows it to delight us without pulling at our heartstrings. It is interesting how similar on paper this seems to be to some of the Hölty settings. They have much in common: the accompaniment purls happily between two hands never very far apart (as if one were playing it on an instrument of very modest compass); the mood is pastoral and perky, charming and elegant. And yet there is never any question of a rococo frame around the Hölty settings; they may evoke a sunlit Germany from long ago, but Höltyland is full of real people. Songs like this Uz setting on the other hand are set in Elysium or Arcadia with a cast of gods and goddesses, nymphs and shepherds. The poetry is Anacreontic and the hand of artifice, however delightfully graceful, is never far away. It is as if Schubert has set out to write a gavotte rather than a Lied.

The mood is cheekily racy thinly disguised by courtly euphemism; the decorations in the vocal line at 'umgeben' in the second line lend a period flavour to the proceedings. This is Schubert in his Watteauesque 'Fêtes galantes' mode ( if only he had known it!). The capricious setting of the final line of the strophe ('wo die Liebesgötter scherzten') is virtuosic for the singer (such fast passagework with quick leaps can all too easily degenerate into a Swiss yodel) and utterly captivating for the audience. It also works its magic in the second strophe where one wonders if there could ever have been a more delectable musical incarnation of 'blondes and brunettes'. The postlude in semiquaver triplets, one hand chasing the other, is distinctly dance-like. And yet despite all this fun one feels a sense of modified rapture, even decorum, in this music. It is this which keeps it firmly within the pasticheur's frame.

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. 23 - Christoph Prégardien
CDJ33023Archive Service; also available on CDS44201/40


Track 18 on CDJ33023 [1'31] Archive Service; also available on CDS44201/40
Track 1 on CDS44201/40 CD15 [1'31] Boxed set + book (at a special price) — Download only

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