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An den Schlaf, D447

First line:
Komm, und senke die umflorten Schwingen
June 1816; first published in 1895
author of text
author of text
doubtful attribution

This is only a single page of music and yet it contains miraculous things in the modest, almost undemonstrative way that typifies many of the shy glories of the 1816 songs. In the beginning one may think that Haydn has had a hand in its composition (and in a sense, as one of Schubert's revered forbears, he has) but by the third line of the poem we hear the Canzonet move over for the Lied as the nineteenth century supplants the eighteenth. The first two bars of music (the poem's first line) are somewhat formal, but then the words 'süsser Schlummer' are exquisitely harmonised with a bass line of three falling semitones indicative of a momentary slipping away from consciousness—not quite enough for the prayer for sleep to be answered too soon. The words 'Segner, Freund!' initiate throbbing semiquavers in the accompaniment, and a romantic sweep of emotion breaks the old-fashioned confines of the chorale. Schubert's mastery of word-setting displays itself here. The invocations to sleep as benefactor and friend are marvellously effective, as are the floating and ethereal line for 'Trost und Balsam'. The postlude is a particularly beautiful little two-part invention, rich in harmonic implications despite its spareness of texture. It unravels in a manner perfect for the idea of relaxing and unwinding; the seal is set on this surrender to the embraces of sleep with four loving semiquavers in Schubert's best Mozartian manner in the final bar. Richard Capell has called this song 'a modest relation of Wanderers Nachtlied I'. Great as that Goethe setting is, this assessment seems just.

from notes by Graham Johnson © 1993


Schubert: The Complete Songs
CDS44201/4040CDs Boxed set + book (at a special price)
Schubert: The Hyperion Schubert Edition, Vol. 18 - Peter Schreier
CDJ33018Archive Service; also available on CDS44201/40


Track 3 on CDJ33018 [2'07] Archive Service; also available on CDS44201/40
Track 3 on CDS44201/40 CD15 [2'07] 40CDs Boxed set + book (at a special price)

Track-specific metadata for CDJ33018 track 3

Recording date
25 August 1992
Recording venue
St George's, Brandon Hill, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Martin Compton
Recording engineer
Antony Howell
Hyperion usage
  1. Schubert: The Hyperion Schubert Edition, Vol. 18 - Peter Schreier (CDJ33018)
    Disc 1 Track 3
    Release date: June 1993
    Deletion date: June 2009
    Archive Service; also available on CDS44201/40
  2. Schubert: The Complete Songs (CDS44201/40)
    Disc 15 Track 3
    Release date: October 2005
    40CDs Boxed set + book (at a special price)
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