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Der Alpenjäger, D588

First line:
Willst du nicht das Lämmlein hüten?
October 1817; published in 1825 as Op 37 No 2
author of text

The piano introduction encapsulates the conflict: two bars of the music of the mother's entreaties and a bar of the young man's hunting calls. Already there is the stark contrast of old-fashioned values (depicted by the mother's music which is tenderly staid and Salieri-like in its ornamented vocal line and simple harmonies) and the wild, impetuous desire of the youth to go hunting (a rough Beethovenian cast to the music). At the words 'Und der Knabe ging zu jagen' the harmonies wrench the lad free from his mother's control and set him on the chromatic rampage. The light-footed gazelle leaps in terror and its delicacy is combined in the accompaniment with the oafish insensitivity of the boy. From the poetic point of view it may be hard to accept the deus ex machina figure of the mountain spirit, but it gives the singer a marvellous chance to use a broad legato line to restore equilibrium and gravity to the scene. The music here is strong in reproof, but still tender. After characterising mother and son in the music of extremes it is Schubert's own voice which emerges to defend the weak; the spirit of the mountain is neither conservative nor rebellious but timelessly wise. We feel that the hunter has learned a valuable lesson, just as Wagner's Parsifal who kills a swan is reproved and instructed by Gurnemanz. Schiller may not have envisaged such a mystical metamorphosis but Schubert illustrates it in the music; the two bars of the postlude reflect a Damascus-like experience for the hunter and pure fool, the very transformation of his character. Capell dubs this song an out-and-out failure, but on the grounds of its humanity alone it is remarkable. We omit one verse in each of the two strophic sections.

from notes by Graham Johnson © 1988


Schubert: The Complete Songs
CDS44201/40Boxed set + book (at a special price) — Download only
Schubert: The Hyperion Schubert Edition, Vol. 1 - Janet Baker
CDJ33001Archive Service; also available on CDS44201/40


Track 17 on CDJ33001 [4'53] Archive Service; also available on CDS44201/40
Track 23 on CDS44201/40 CD19 [4'53] Boxed set + book (at a special price) — Download only

Track-specific metadata for CDJ33001 track 17

Recording date
19 February 1987
Recording venue
Elstree, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Martin Compton
Recording engineer
Antony Howell
Hyperion usage
  1. Schubert: The Hyperion Schubert Edition, Vol. 1 - Janet Baker (CDJ33001)
    Disc 1 Track 17
    Release date: December 1987
    Deletion date: August 2012
    Archive Service; also available on CDS44201/40
  2. Schubert: The Complete Songs (CDS44201/40)
    Disc 19 Track 23
    Release date: October 2005
    Deletion date: July 2021
    Boxed set + book (at a special price) — Download only
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