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Der Blumen Schmerz, D731

First line:
Wie tönt es mir so schaurig
September 1821; first published in December 1821 as a supplement
author of text

The first thing that the seasoned Schubertian will hear in the introduction is a motif which recalls the Goethe setting Geheimes composed six months earlier. The words in that song talk of peeping little eyes, beguiling and cheeky. It is clear that the idea of flowers emerging from the ground to cast their first vulnerable glance into the outside world has inspired the composer to similar musical imagery – a falling figure of two notes, pointedly phrased. The key is E minor which Schubert was later to use in the apotheosis of his songs of withered, wilting and dried flowers – Trockne Blumen from Die schöne Müllerin.

The sentimentality of the lyrics is 'sickly sweet' for Einstein and 'hard to bear' for Fischer-Dieskau, yet there is a consensus that Schubert's music redeems these failings; somehow he has found a means of making us believe in the poet's self-pitying death wish disguised in flower allegory. The song has something in common with Schubert's Abendröthe settings where the poet Schlegel employs the pathetic fallacy to greater effect than Majláth. In these songs Schubert employs some of the same techniques that are found here: deliberately naive vocal lines and rhythmical patterns which reflect the unspoiled childlike simplicity of nature. The four repeated notes of 'tönt es mir so' at the voice's entrance are typical of this, as is the music for the third and fourth strophes in a key (C major) and tessitura which inhabits the aerial spheres of Nachtviolen. The fifth and sixth verses ('In bräutlich heller Feier') form an A major variant of the two opening strophes in E minor. The first two lines of the seventh verse ('Die Kelche sinken nieder') form a quasi-recitative which leads into a final plea ('Etwas bewegter') from the flowers. The song ends here in the Peters Edition. It was taken from a manuscript possibly prepared and abridged by the singer Vogl for an early performance. The version printed in Mandyczewski and recorded here has music for one more verse (Tempo I – 'Die welken Blätter fallen') which contains perhaps the most individual ideas of the piece: muted right hand chords in the bass clef are underpinned by tiny funeral march drumbeats on a pedal E. The song ends in the pathetic major whereby death is a welcome balm; this play between major and minor recalls Der Müller und der Bach – another song from Die schöne Müllerin.

from notes by Graham Johnson © 1993


Schubert: The Complete Songs
CDS44201/40Boxed set + book (at a special price) — Download only
Schubert: The Hyperion Schubert Edition, Vol. 19 - Felicity Lott
CDJ33019Archive Service; also available on CDS44201/40


Track 4 on CDJ33019 [4'04] Archive Service; also available on CDS44201/40
Track 2 on CDS44201/40 CD25 [4'04] Boxed set + book (at a special price) — Download only

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