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Lorma, D327

First line:
Lorma sass in der Halle von Aldo. Sie sass
First setting; first published as a fragment in 1928; completed by Reinhard van Hoorickx
author of text
author of text
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This is one of the songs on this text. It is clear that Schubert was attracted strongly to the text with its evocation of night and a central tragic heroine who waits in vain for her beloved Aldo to return to her. Duparc's medieval evocation Au pays où se fait la guerre comes to mind where the woman waiting interminably in the tower also has her hopes falsely aroused at one point. It seems true, however, that for some reason the composer was at a loss as to how to finish the settings. This is a pity because they both contain beautiful music.

Both fragments are in A minor. One can see a relationship between the two versions as if the words inspired the same sort of response from the composer in general terms, even if the details and the shapes of the melodies were rather different. The 1816 version is in common time, but this song is in 3/4. There is a solemn introduction of seven bars built of a right-hand tune in sixths – something of a slow dance as if there were distant music or ceremonial taking place in the hall of Aldo. These passages in sixths are in differing registers of the piano; together with a left hand which imitates their rhythm in quasi-counterpoint, they link together the various segments of the opening recitative. (It is notable that sixths in the accompaniment play an important part in other Ossian settings, notably Die Nacht.) The second version has music which is much more evocative of Lorma's disturbed emotions; here her distress is in counterpoint to the impersonality of the dance music.

With 'was hält dich, du Jäger von Cona zurück' Lorma begins to speak. This was to be the occasion of an impassioned C minor aria in the later version, but here the composer contents himself with a G minor arioso marked Mässig langsam. This sets Lorma's first two phrases (the second a musical sequence of the first) in term of simple, almost phlegmatic speech, and her utterances are separated by short bursts of piano commentary. A new section seems to begin at 'Brausen an der Heide die düstern Winde'; here the dotted quaver/semiquaver rhythms prophesy the fiery D minor opening of the Schiller setting Der Kampf, as well as the rumbustious middle section of Gruppe aus dem Tartarus. The arioso continues in more peaceful fashion at 'Ich bin im Lande der Fremden'. Under the name 'Aldo' there is a chromatic scale in the accompaniment, a figuration which Schubert used no fewer than eight times in the remaining thirteen bars of the fragment. This rising scale in the alto line (played either by the left hand or the lower fingers of the right as the little finger sustains melodic minims) seems to denote disappearance or evaporation at the same time as being illustrative of the howling wind and Lorma's grief. The six bars (42-47) of recitative and interlude from '… gen das Tor' were discovered some forty years ago by Maurice Brown in the Stadtbibliothek in Vienna as he studied the manuscript of a piano sonata from 1817. It was quite common for the composer to return to old, unused pieces of manuscript paper and here works which stand two years apart in chronology are found side-by-side on the written page. But this is as much as we have of Lorma (1) whereas the 1816 version continues for a further five bars. Without attempting to complete the whole poem (surely an impossible task) Reinhard Van Hoorickx decided to complete this fragment to the same point in the poem reached by Lorma (2). From 'Sie denkt, es seien die Tritten von Aldo' he achieves this with fairly modest unjarring means, and he uses the inner-voiced chromatic scale to useful effect. This could have been a piece of real stature had Schubert completed it and made a certain number of revisions.

from notes by Graham Johnson © 1994


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