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Das Leben ist ein Traum, D269

first published by Diabelli as part of volume 44 of the Nachlass
author of text

The main importance of this slight piece of Schubertiana in the manner of a musical exercise is that it is one of only two three-part choral settings with piano accompaniment written by the composer. The other is Das Abendrot. The unusual deployment here of soprano I, soprano II and alto (Das Abendrot includes a bass in its forces) suggests that it was written for a specific musical gathering in that hectic and highly creative August of 1815. The work is suggestive of Haydn, even to the extent that the older composer composed a solo song on the same theme with the same title. Haydn was also a composer who was given to writing semi-philosophical vocal ensembles of this sort, and in more or less this harmonic style. (The most distinguished is Der Greis, a song of an old man of waning strength; Haydn at the end of his life wittily had the first bars of this engraved on his visiting card!) The accompaniment of this piece, apart from the single bar of introduction, is merely a short score of the three vocal lines. The quasi-contrapuntal form is suited to the words: the dream-like and ever-shifting quality of life is reflected by the echo effect between the three parts which shadow each other with just a suggestion of canonic imitation.

from notes by Graham Johnson © 1994


Schubert: The Complete Songs
CDS44201/4040CDs Boxed set + book (at a special price)
Schubert: The Hyperion Schubert Edition, Vol. 22


Track 8 on CDJ33022 [1'58]
Track 20 on CDS44201/40 CD9 [1'58] 40CDs Boxed set + book (at a special price)

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