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Amalia, D195

First line:
Schön wie Engel voll Walhallas Wonne
published in 1867
author of text

This is the Schiller counterpart to Goethe's Grerchen. Amalia is heroine of Schiller's drama Die Räuber; in this extract from the third act she remembers her banished lover Karl Moor who has been cheated of his inheritance and who has become in consequence the leader of a band of robbers. Despite the blandishments of Karl's villainous brother Franz, Amalia remains steadfastly devoted to her lover. We hear this determination in the opening lines of her song; as she describes Karl she is still in control of her emotions, the image of a mirror-like sea is a calm one. Suddenly as arioso breaks into recitative, we hear echoes of Gretchen's distress. The memory of Karl's kiss awakens desire in Amalia just as the memory of Faust's kiss had suddenly stopped Gretchen's spinning wheel only then to make it turn faster and faster. Leaping flames and vibrating harp strings invade Amalia's memory and are reflected in the accompaniment's tremolando shimmer. Her thoughts race forward ('sehr schnell' - very fast - is a relatively unusual tempo marking for Schubert) and the panting of the piano part, modulating in almost every bar, pre-echoes the intensity of Berlioz's Marguerite. Left hand has been alternating with right, but at 'Erd und Himmel schwammen' the hands imitate the elements and join together. As the earth and heaven of Amalia's fantasy dissolve we hear the solid quaver rhythm melt into crotchet triplets. We are led back to a stark ending originally in A minor, the same key as Schiller's Die Götter Griechenlands and Goethe's Lied der Mignon. All these songs mourn former happiness which cannot be recaptured. The harmonies beneath Amalia's final 'Ach' bring to mind the gruesome agonies endured by the shades in a later Schiller setting, Gruppe aus dem Tartarus.

from notes by Graham Johnson © 1988


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