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Das Heimweh, D456

First line:
Oft in einsam stillen Stunden
July 1816; first published in 1887
author of text
author of text

John Reed rightly calls this song a minor masterpiece. It is from 1816, which is a year of triumphs in miniature forms. It also seems to have been a year when the virtues of control were put at a high premium: the poems of the Lieder are often clothed in musical garb as deliberately modest as it is ideally suited to its purpose. It is possible to detect in this the guiding hand of Antonio Salieri whose influence over the young composer was at its height in the summer of this year—Schubert's diary entry for Salieri's anniversary celebrations reveal a young man still in the thrall of his teacher. By December the composer had stopped taking lessons and Salieri's star is setting in the Schubertian firmament. However, a year of pulling in his horns after the heady creativity of 1815 may not have been a bad thing for a young man bursting with ideas. It provided a period when the composer seems to have concentrated on creating expressive and flexibile vocal lines, and discovered the means of moving his listeners with the least overt display. Das Heimweh is a fine illustration of this 1816 art of multum in parvo.

The chromaticism of the introduction, one wilting forlorn bar succeeding the other, puts one in mind of the heady chromaticism of the Rückert setting Dass sie hier gewesen; unfulfilled longing is what they have in common. There is also a comparison to be made with the neighbouring work in the Deutsch catalogue, An die untergehende Sonne, which also was first sketched in July 1816 and where the sequences in the introduction also move ever downwards. In that work it is the sun which sinks to the horizon; in Das Heimweh it is the traveller who looks longingly towards his home land on the other side of it. The descending pattern of the introduction is mirrored by the vocal line which manages to depict both sadness and passionate eloquence; the latter is achieved by the rhythm's departure from the bereft quavers of 'Oft in einsam stillen Stunden' ('Hab' ich ein Gefühl empfunden' suddenly takes on an quasi-operatic sweep) as well as the demandingly high tessitura ('hoch hinauf in bess're Sterne' indeed) which ensures that the voice is at full stretch. There is a wail in this music utterly appropriate to the feeling it describes.

Schubert wrote out only one verse and then added repeat marks. When this song received its first publication in 1887 in Volume VII of the Peters Edition, the editor Max Friedländer commissioned two extra verses from Max Kalbeck. Eight years later the editor of the Gesamtausgabe Eusebius Mandyczewski took the trouble to track down the original poem, and on this recording we perform three of the six verses printed there.

from notes by Graham Johnson © 1993


Schubert: Der Wanderer & other songs
Studio Master: CDA68010Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
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 9 on CDA68010 [2'55]
Track 8 on CDJ33018 [3'00] Archive Service; also available on CDS44201/40
Track 11 on CDS44201/40 CD15 [3'00] 40CDs Boxed set + book (at a special price)

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