Expanding on his penchant for lengthy sequences of encore offerings after his solo recitals, Sir András Schiff has called upon the vocalists participating in Haydn’s Mass to fashion a luxurious and illuminating Schubertiade to close today’s program.
The recital begins (and concludes) with the two version of Schubert’s Serenade for alto voice and chorus. (There is another beloved Serenade in Schubert’s catalog, found among the songs from his very last year and published as part of the Schwanengesang collection.) The present title was intended as a birthday surprise for a young woman whose friends were able to convince Schubert to set the text (by Franz Grillparzer) for that occasion. He scored it for alto voice and four-part male chorus, but was chided for failing to understand that the surprise was intended to feature a group of women, so he produced a second version.
The remainder of the program features three pairs of related songs illuminating different aspects of Schubert’s prodigious output. Among his favorite themes was nature in its many manifestations – welcoming, rejuvenating, and joyous, but also oppressive, ominous, and threatening.
Widerschein and Fischerweise, both texts by the composer’s friend Franz Xaver von Schlechta, reflect decidedly divergent scenes in the life of the fisherman. Springtime is the general topic of Das Lied im Grünen and Im Frühling, two of the composer’s loveliest inspirations.
Totengräbers Heimweh and Der blinde Knabe (the first a text by Jacob Nikolaus Craugher de Jachelutta, the second his translation of a poem by Colley Cibber) bring us the death-obsessed side of Schubert.
— Dennis Bade is Associate Director of Publications for the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association