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Vollendung, D579a

First line:
Wenn ich einst das Ziel errungen habe
Formerly D989. September – October 1817; first published in 1970
author of text

This is one of a pair of Matthisson songs (the other is Die Erde, Volume 5) which had been thought to be lost, but which were rediscovered by the late Christa Landon as recently as 1970. After the uncertain spiritual destinations of the two Heliopolis songs, the poem from an earlier time which describes the threshold of heavenly fulfilment with ecstatic confidence, seems touchingly old-fashioned. There remains a temptation to question the provenance of accompaniments where the disposition of much of the piano writing seems very untypical of Schubert, if not downright banal. The last line of each verse (where quaver triplets suddenly throb with a mood reminiscent of another Matthisson setting, Stimme der Liebe, Volume 8) seems suddenly authentic, flesh and blood after wood. It would not surprise me if the work was a collaboration between Schubert and one of his composer friends, and that he had written only the vocal line and part of the accompaniment. In the absence of an autograph, it is the heading of the manuscript copy of the songs, found in the papers of the Wiener Männergesang Verein, which is the only factual evidence of their authenticity. Whoever wrote this song, it is a far from negligible response to Matthisson's ardent text. To question its authorship is not to belittle its efficacy. Schubert certainly had a hand, but possibly not much more than this, in its composition.

from notes by Graham Johnson © 1991


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