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Lorma, D376

First line:
Lorma sass in der Halle von Aldo
Second setting; first published in 1895
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Here is an unfinished fragment from Macpherson's poem The Battle of Lora. Schubert made two attempts to set the story of Lorma who waits in vain for her beloved (a type of Ossianic equivalent of Schiller's Die Erwartung—without the happy pay-off) the first of which dates from November 1815. A few months later he tried again, recasting the song entirely, but breaking off only three sentences later than in his first attempt. However, there must have been something about Lorma which attracted Schubert; we can only imagine how beautifully he would have set the description of her a little later in the poem—'she was as pale as a watery cloud that rises from the lake, to the beam of the moon.'

The music begins in a mournful A minor in the simple, rather old-fashioned style (cf the opening of Lodas Gespenst) which the composer seems to have thought an appropriate folksong style to depict the Scottish Highlands in primeval times. The opening recitative is most effective with its inevitable evocation of night. The cadence on 'Lormas Seele war trüb' has the feel of eighteenth-century oratorio. There now follows an impassioned 3/8 aria in C minor ('Was hält dich, du Jäger von Cona, zurck') which has a repeated accompaniment figure in sixths which suggests the music of Bach where an oboe might be the obbligato instrument sharing the vocal line with the singer. The use of sixths in this way seems to have been a hallmark of the Ossian settings, and is to be found again in Die Nacht. The chromatic ascent of 'Wer ist mein Freund, als Aldo?' (repeated) adds romantic anguish to a section which has a deliberately classical feel to it. The next section ('Mit Bewegung', 'With movement') uses the same figure on the piano in different registers to depict, in rather conventional fashion, the click of a gate, the rustling of wind and the (supposed) tread of Aldo. The words of the final cadence ('wie am Mond eine dünne Wolke, zurück') are beautifully set, with a touching dying fall, as gentle as a moonbeam, which modulates to E flat. It seems a great pity that the composer should give up the ghost at this point. Perhaps he realised that the rest of the poem would require so much ethereal music for the spirit of Lorma (there are no more stirring battle scenes in this section) that the piece would lack the musical contrasts needed to hold the attention of the listener.

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. 17 - Lucia Popp
CDJ33017Archive Service; also available on CDS44201/40


Track 4 on CDJ33017 [2'47] Archive Service; also available on CDS44201/40
Track 19 on CDS44201/40 CD12 [2'47] Boxed set + book (at a special price) — Download only

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