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On one level the song is made up of a hymn tune, but on another it flies free of all the modest church-like resonances of certain works of this type by its use of an attenuated starry tessitura for the vocal line. In this respect it is reminiscent of the 1819 Mayrhofer masterpiece Die Sternennächte where the voice also seems suspended in outer space. In order to achieve this feeling of other-worldliness the composer has made the opening bars seem almost ungrounded, without a strong bass line; it is only on the words 'feierlicher Pracht' that substantial forte chords add majesty to what has been hitherto an ethereal picture. The invitation to Ida ('Komm', Ida, komm' ins Freie') begins in the home key of B flat but within four bars we have reached the distant key of A flat. A number of experts have commented on this as an unusual feature without saying what has led the composer to turn into this territory. As usual with Schubert this is no modulation merely for modulation's sake. What could be more of a journey for the eye and the imagination than to look upwards 'in jene Bläue' – into the limitless blue of the firmament? It is Schubert's evocation of the colour blue, radiant and in the far distance, in his mind's eye (or ear) which has prompted the change to A flat major, and it suggests mystery and wonder as well as a warmth of colour quite different from that of the silvery stars. The phrase 'zu jenen Höhn' at the end of the first strophe is especially well set as it rises and aspires to the heights and the top of the vocal compass. The postlude is very simple, yet miraculous. No-one can say why a succession of chords which at first sight seem to have come from a hymnal has such a profound effect. It is enough to say that Schubert is master of using the most economical means to achieve the deepest things. These four bars preceded by an upbeat seem somehow worthy not only of the majesty of the heavens but of the humility of the star-struck amateur astronomer.
from notes by Graham Johnson © 1994
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