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Dämmrung senkte sich von oben

28 August 1843
author of text

This famous poem is from Goethe’s collection Chinesisch-Deutschen Jahres- und Tageszeiten (‘Chinese-German book of Hours and Seasons’), written in 1827 when the poet was seventy-eight. Fanny beautifully captures the tone of Goethe’s serene hymn to nightfall, when the oppression of a troubled spirit is healed by the cool light of the moon rising in the east. From the very first phrase the music slides from D major harmony to B flat major with rich chords giving the effect of darkness descending. The accompaniment gradually rises at the image of the evening star, and sinking harmonies are delicately interrupted by a sparkling arpeggio on the word ‘Abendstern’. An evocative passage follows that aptly depicts the creeping mists and magical moonlight of both verses respectively. The music here is a variation of the opening bars and the end of the phrase (‘in die Höh’/Zauberschein’) is inverted into a resolutery falling phrase exchanged between voice and piano that returns us to D major once more. An arresting calm is achieved at ‘ruht der See/ins Herz hinein’ with the voice on a suspended pianissimo note over subtly ambiguous major/minor harmony, and the piece concludes mysteriously with low tolling bass notes.

from notes by Eugene Asti and Susan Gritton © 2000


Mendelssohn (Fanny): Lieder


Track 24 on CDH55360 [2'24]

Track-specific metadata for CDH55360 track 24

Recording date
17 March 1999
Recording venue
All Saints' Church, East Finchley, London, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Oliver Rivers
Recording engineer
Tony Faulkner
Hyperion usage
  1. Mendelssohn (Fanny): Lieder (CDA67110)
    Disc 1 Track 24
    Release date: January 2000
    Deletion date: July 2008
    Superseded by CDH55360
  2. Mendelssohn (Fanny): Lieder (CDH55360)
    Disc 1 Track 24
    Release date: April 2013
  3. Hyperion sampler - April 2013 (HYP201304)
    Disc 1 Track 5
    Release date: April 2013
    Download-only sampler
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