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Die Nacht, D358

First line:
Du verstörst uns nicht, o Nacht!
first published in 1849 in volume 44 of the Nachlass
author of text

This song bears a resemblance to another work from 1816, Abschied. Nach einer Wallfahrtsarie. The shape of the melodic line is similar, and the accompaniment for both works suggests the sound of hunting horns heard in the distance at twilight. John Reed states that the music seems out of keeping with the 'conspiratorial mood' of the lyric. In the hands of the right performers, however, the simplicity of the music can take on a measure of intensity and longing that is perhaps more to do with recitation than singing. It was ever thus with a certain type of Schubertian strophic song—seemingly dull and lifeless on the printed page, the music springs into life at the moment of declamation.

The 'horn call' accompanying motif is heard in A flat in the right hand during the first full bar and reappears in the relative minor, in the left hand, immediately afterwards. This canonic effect continues throughout the song, the bass clef answering and echoing the statements of the treble. The inspiration for this seems to have been that the song has a cast of more than one character: the night does not disturb us, the poet says. Just as in Das Finden Schubert places music in the treble clef to suggest femininity, the different tessituras of the piano writing here suggest the echoes of personal sympathy and a dialogue of the sexes. Reed states that this Uz poem has nothing in common with the Mayrhofer Abschied, but surely it is reciprocity, the sharing of intimacy and exchange of feelings which probably drew the subject matter of the two poems together (and thus their musical depiction) in the composer's mind. There is also something solemn and dignified about a ceremony of farewell, and the advent of night has a similar majestic portent. The repetition of the line 'dass er unsern Wein erfrischte' is a marvellous touch: the first setting of the words emphasises 'unsern' and the 'erfrische' falls on the strong first beat. In the repeat of the line the emphases fall in different places (the line has effectively been re-barred) and the effect is of a colloquy where one person repeats another's statement in a slightly different voice. The effective and haunting elongation of the second syllable of the word 'erfrische' ('verborgen' in the second verse) takes its cue from the feminine cadence implicit in the rhythm of the poem itself. By 1816 Schubert was becoming increasingly masterful in handling subtleties of prosody.

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. 18 - Peter Schreier
CDJ33018Archive Service; also available on CDS44201/40


Track 2 on CDJ33018 [2'04] Archive Service; also available on CDS44201/40
Track 5 on CDS44201/40 CD12 [2'04] Boxed set + book (at a special price) — Download only

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