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Alles um Liebe poses a question (‘What is it that fills the soul?’) which is answered in a phrase which suggests inspired revelation (‘Ah, it is love!’) What a surprise! Of course we could all have guessed the answer, but Zumsteeg places a fermata after this question as if to suggest a pause for rather ponderous thought. In Schubert’s setting on the other hand the music treats this question as more or less rhetorical. The change of harmony on ‘Liebe’ is enough to introduce a new colour to the song; what could have been a stiff alternation between hackneyed question and answer becomes the tender musings of a soul very much in love, someone who is carried away by love rather than dissecting its workings. The delicacy of the setting is reinforced by a number of tiny but effective touches: the yielding phrasing of the pairs of crotchets in the piano’s introductory bars which is prophetic of Geheimes; the trills as if the very thought of love (already in the mind of the singer before the vocal line begins) sets the heart a-flutter; the mezzo staccato chords which tread softly so as not to disturb the lover’s dreams; the beautiful suspension which provides a note of yearning the second time the word ‘Liebe’ is heard in each verse; the pompous little arpeggio which is good for the pedantic ‘Goldeswerth’ in the first verse, but even better to depict the vain emptiness of ‘Titel, Stand noch Rang’ in the second. The ‘scoring’ of the charming six-bar postlude (strings plus oboe and bassoon perhaps) reinforces the impression that this little Lied would sound well as an aria for Claudine in the opera Claudine von Villa Bella (cf Liebe schwärmt auf allen Wegen) which was begun on 26 June 1815, the day before Alles um Liebe was written.
from notes by Graham Johnson © 1994
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