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Lied in der Abwesenheit, D416

First line:
Ach, mir ist das Herz so schwer!
April 1816; fragment first published in 1925 and completed by Eusebius Mandyczewski
author of text

John Reed states that 'Schubert's failure to complete this song has deprived us of a masterpiece.' It is in the composer's 'important' key of B minor (the first section anyway, before a modulation to G major for the second section, 'ziemlich geschwind') and the sad weighty utterance of the opening nine bars certainly promises much. The contrast between these bars and the jolly rollicking section beginning 'Sässest du auf meinem Schoss' is so great however that it would be my guess that this did not quite satisfy the composer; we have here, in effect, two separate songs of such entirely different moods that we end up by believing neither the tragic tone of the one (which seems to overstate the case made by the words) nor the rather saucy high spirits of the other.

This having been said there is much to treasure here that is genuine Schubert. The B minor section could well be sung by a Mignon or a repentant Gretchen, and the stark prelude of doubled octaves (which makes a reappearance before the change of mood) puts us in mind of Goethe's Harper (another creation of 1816) with its dragging gait drained of energy and emotion. John Reed believes, as does Reinhard van Hoorickx, that Schubert had a tripartite form in mind for this song and intended to end it with a repeat of the aria in the minor. The utterly delicious G major section is of such infectious gaiety (and something of a Moravian character that puts us in mind of Dvorak) that it would be difficult to imagine how the composer intended to exit from this and make a return to the B minor mood at the end. Although it is reasonable to imagine the poet's pipe dream punctured, prompting a return to the music of the opening, this is easier said than done without Schubert himself to do it for us; we have preferred to follow Mandyczewski's completion (with slight alterations of our own in the final two bars) which does not attempt a recapitulation. It seems fairly obvious that the music for the Schlegel setting Der Knabe (March 1820) had its beginnings with the second section of this song. The same imagery of childhood and flying summon up a tune of similar rhythmical shape, also in 2/4. Both songs have the same air of a pipingly repetitive ditty in a children's playground, and both share a merry and mischievous simplicity.

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 8 on CDJ33017 [1'45] Archive Service; also available on CDS44201/40
Track 1 on CDS44201/40 CD14 [1'45] Boxed set + book (at a special price) — Download only

Track-specific metadata for CDS44201/40 disc 14 track 1

Recording date
9 April 1992
Recording venue
Rosslyn Hill Unitarian Chapel, Hampstead, London, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Martin Compton
Recording engineer
Antony Howell
Hyperion usage
  1. Schubert: The Hyperion Schubert Edition, Vol. 17 - Lucia Popp (CDJ33017)
    Disc 1 Track 8
    Release date: April 1993
    Deletion date: September 2019
    Archive Service; also available on CDS44201/40
  2. Schubert: The Complete Songs (CDS44201/40)
    Disc 14 Track 1
    Release date: October 2005
    Deletion date: July 2021
    Boxed set + book (at a special price) — Download only
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