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Pflicht und Liebe, D467

First line:
Du, der ewig um mich trauert
August 1816; fragment first published in 1885 and completed by Max Friedländer
author of text

Schubert set only one poem by Gotter, so it is not unreasonable to suppose that he was attracted to this text because it seemed to have some relevance to his own relationship to Therese Grob; the composer might have imagined these words spoken to him by a young girl who felt it her duty to discourage his suit and to offer him comfort by directing his gaze away from her and towards the beauties of nature. The composer carefully cut two strophes from the poem which referred to the two lovers having 'played like lambs' together, and another verse which makes it clear that the young man being addressed is to blame for the break-up of the relationship because of his new love for one Philaide. As Schubert set it, the poem is about a girl who has decided to end a relationship.

Gotter was famous as a librettist, and the anguished feel of this music suggests a bel canto opera aria; the piano part in flowing triplets reinforces this impression although it is true that this pattern of accompaniment is found often in the 1816 songs and not only in the more dramatic ones. It is as if someone (Salieri perhaps) has advised the young composer to concentrate on creating beautiful vocal lines rather than attempting to fill the accompaniment with too much distracting detail. It is not hard to imagine Salieri taking Schubert to task for writing complicated accompaniments; perhaps the simplification of the Erlkönig piano part prepared for Goethe in April 1816 stems from the old master's caveats. In any case, the accompaniment to Pflicht und Liebe is simply supportive of the harmonic twists and turns of the vocal line and attempts no commentary of its own to deepen the significance of the setting. It is left to the voice part to paint emotion with such devices as the highly expressive downward sigh (A flat to D) on the word 'seufzest' in the first verse. The song is technically a fragment because it was left unfinished by Schubert, but all that is lacking is the final bar of the vocal line. Max Friedländer provided a piano interlude between verses 1 and 2 and a postlude (these in a somewhat unconvincing Brahmsian manner) when the song was first printed in Volume 7 of the Peters Edition.

The tessitura is higher than that of the usual Lied, and it was in high-lying music of this sort that Therese Grob herself was said to have excelled as a singer. Once the word 'Du' has been said (and there is an expressive rest after it to emphasise the vocative) there is scarcely a pause for breath in an outpouring of passionate placations; indeed the singer's use of the word 'Pflicht' may be hiding the fact that it is not duty alone that prompts this advice; she may well be in love with someone else. The song is cast in C minor which in John Reed's analysis of Schubert's tonalities stands for infidelity (cf Platen's Die Liebe hat gelogen) and other sinister workings of man and nature. Both Wonne der Wehmuth and the Lied der Anne Lyle are in this key where the singers suffer emotional anguish, unrequited love, or the like. Reed compares this song, with justification, to Luisens Antwort; it is also prophetic of a later song of bel canto character which begins in rather a similar way with 'O du …'—the quasi operatic Heimliches Lieben (1827).

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
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Track 13 on CDJ33017 [2'52] Archive Service; also available on CDS44201/40
Track 14 on CDS44201/40 CD15 [2'52] Boxed set + book (at a special price) — Download only

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