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Track(s) taken from CDJ33018

An die Entfernte, D765

First line:
So hab’ ich wirklich dich verloren?
December 1822; first published in 1868 by Wilhelm Müller of Berlin
author of text

Peter Schreier (tenor), Graham Johnson (piano)
Recording details: August 1992
St George's, Brandon Hill, United Kingdom
Produced by Martin Compton
Engineered by Antony Howell
Release date: June 1993
Total duration: 2 minutes 58 seconds

Other recordings available for download

Maarten Koningsberger (baritone), Graham Johnson (piano)


‘Superlative’ (Gramophone)

‘An outstanding disc in a distinguished series’ (BBC Music Magazine)

‘The record brings joy; I've been playing it again and again’ (The Observer)

‘One of the glories of the series’ (Fanfare, USA)
This little masterpiece is full of wonderful subtleties and, as Capell has written, its every phrase deserves looking into. There seems to be a complete flexibility of form and expression here, so spontaneously does this musical 'letter' seem to have been invented on the spot. Schubert had written a great deal of tuneful melody and he had experimented a great deal with arioso, but by 1822 all the strands of his apprenticeship have been brought together in effortless mastery. Thus we here have a very free-sounding song which is nevertheless highly organised: an ABA structure which subtly subverts that form, and a song of classical poise which is the epitome of romantic longing. Schubert was now able to reconcile a multitude of musical contradictions and contain them all in himself. With such a command of the seemingly naive mysteries of strophic song, and a hard-won ability to revitalise that old medium without tearing it apart, the composer was set to compose Die schöne Müllerin in the following year. It will not escape the notice of listeners that the beginning of the second verse of An die Entfernte ('So wie des Wandrers Blick am Morgen') is prophetic of passages from Winterreise—the opening of Auf dem Flusse for example.

The opening four notes in the piano seem to ask a question (cf the opening of Mendelssohn's Frage, op 9 no 1), 'Is it true?' The fifth note we hear, the twinge of a dissonant E flat in the alto line, leads us to expect the worst; a diminished seventh directs the gaze of the enquirer heavenward, and the voice enters on a high G in what momentarily sounds like a new fugal entry on a higher pitch. We hear the same three-quaver falling figure that has been introduced by the piano, but the voice caps it in terms of intensity and painful involvement. Fischer-Dieskau writes that this setting 'was to determine the style of musical declamation for a century' and it is true that the prosody is extraordinarily refined—the way that 'wirklich' falls on a strong and long beat adds to the astounded sense of loss. The classical poise of this first line conjures up the ghost of Gluck's Orpheus both in terms of Goethe's words and Schubert's musical response; the composer later allows himself repetitions of some of the lines in the manner of an operatic aria. The poem's first verse encompasses modulations from the home key of G major, to G minor (the second line), B flat and then to F major for the end of the verse. The second verse (marked 'etwas langsamer') is frozen in F minor until its fourth line in which the larks take the music into A flat major. In modified strophic songs of this nature Verse 3 would be a repeat of Verse 1, but taking his cue from Goethe's punctuation at the end of the second verse, Schubert annexes half of Verse 3 as part of the tormented middle section which at 'so dringet ängstlich hin' becomes faster ('Geschwinder') and more agitated. This takes us back to F minor and then C major so that the recapitulation of the first musical idea in G major occurs only in the third line of the last verse. Operatic repetitions of the few remaining words (note the seemingly improvised power of 'alle, alle meine Lieder') build up into a substantial third section—a plea of powerful eloquence. Before the closing cadence in the vocal line, there is an unaccompanied bar for the voice ('O komm Geliebte' for the last time) in which Schubert audaciously pays tribute to the tradition of operatic cadenza in the middle of a song of the highest seriousness. The postlude repeats the prelude; the singer's pleas have fallen on deaf ears (that tragic E flat impinges again in the piano) and the final two bars of postlude bring the story to a resigned and crestfallen close. Goethe probably wrote this poem for Charlotte von Stein on his return from Italy in 1788.

from notes by Graham Johnson © 1993

Other albums featuring this work

Schubert: The Complete Songs
CDS44201/4040CDs Boxed set + book (at a special price) — Download only
Schubert: The Hyperion Schubert Edition, Vol. 28 - Maarten Koningsberger & John Mark Ainsley
CDJ33028Download only
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