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Nacht und Träume, D827

First line:
Heil’ge Nacht, du sinkest nieder
1822 or 1823; published in 1825 as Op 43 No 2
author of text

I believe that this song, made out of a conflation of two of Collin's poems, was meant as a memorial and tribute to the poet, a greatly admired friend, who had died the year before. The vocal line stretches into the void and lures moonlight, memories and spirits to visit our dreams. In the piano, slow unruffled semiquavers breathe steadily, and the one significant modulation into G major from the home key of B major, makes the dreamer fall into an even deeper sleep, nestling with the purest delight in the arms of Morpheus. There is however a touch of lonely, resounding desolation on the diminished chord of 'Rufen, wenn der Tag erwacht': we plead for night's return in order to live again in a better world, to recapture the joys that we once possessed. This is a theme of a number of Schubert's greatest songs. Many years before Freud, the poet knew that sleep—the other side of the coin of death—is the key to our past joys and troubles. The song is notoriously difficult; all singers and pianists feel that the ideal performance of this music of the spheres exists only in the imagination and in the happiest of dreams.

Matthäus von Collin was a cousin of the same Josef von Spaun who seems to have been ubiquitous in all the fortunate aspects of Schubert's life. Collin was a poet and dramatist, a good eighteen years older than the composer, but a kindly and cultured host of considerable means (he was tutor to Napoleon's son, the Duke of Reichstadt). He was something of an intellectual heavyweight, having held the professorship of philosophy at the University of Cracow, and the professorship of history of philosophy in Vienna. Admired for his taste, kindness and ability as a critic rather more than for his writing, Collin's conversation must have bewitched Schubert on his visits (sometimes with Vogl) to his household. He was a disciple of the Schlegel brothers, and those poets' considerable influence on Schubert in the early 1820s, probably went back to conversations with Collin. His early death in his middle forties was a shock to the Schubert circle. There are five Schubert Collin settings.

from notes by Graham Johnson © 1989


Chopin: Cello Sonata; Schubert: Arpeggione Sonata
Studio Master: CDA68227Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
Schubert: The Complete Songs
CDS44201/40Boxed set + book (at a special price) — Download only
Schubert: The Hyperion Schubert Edition, Vol. 3 - Ann Murray
CDJ33003Archive Service; also available on CDS44201/40
Schubert: The Songmakers' Almanac Schubertiade
CDD220102CDs Dyad (2 for the price of 1) — Archive Service


Track 12 on CDA68227 [3'45]
Track 13 on CDD22010 CD1 [3'57] 2CDs Dyad (2 for the price of 1) — Archive Service
Track 13 on CDJ33003 [4'40] Archive Service; also available on CDS44201/40
Track 14 on CDS44201/40 CD26 [4'40] Boxed set + book (at a special price) — Download only

Track-specific metadata for CDD22010 disc 1 track 13

Recording date
24 November 1983
Recording venue
St Barnabas's Church, North Finchley, London, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Martin Compton
Recording engineer
Antony Howell
Hyperion usage
  1. Schubert: The Songmakers' Almanac Schubertiade (CDD22010)
    Disc 1 Track 13
    Release date: March 1997
    Deletion date: March 2010
    2CDs Dyad (2 for the price of 1) — Archive Service
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