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Tag: Franz Schubert

Schubert – Piano Sonata D959‏

to my utter surprise when I checked I’d never
but only once in the many months I haven’t
been able to shut up since I started spouting
my bristling endorsements, like a very rushing
river gushing with the overflowing bounty of
an inveterate spring, mentioned Schubert, an
incandescent voice from surely heaven

it was about his String Quartet in C major, the
D956, not surprisingly, it is utterly enchanting,
D for Otto Erich Deutsch still, incidentally

here’s an alternate version of it, an utterly
inspired one

but if I’ve reintroduced Schubert it’s specifically
this time to compare him with Beethoven, they’re
easily confounded, I even did it once myself, to
my crushing embarrassment, in erudite and
unflinching company, oof, I cringe to even
remember it

the D959, moments only after the 956 of course,
has all the idioms of a Beethoven, and exercises
them as expertly, the beat, however, is always
on, unlike Beethoven, whose beat is always off,
contrary, rebellious, against the prevailing

though this variance might seem slight, one
senses already in the younger and later
Schubert a return to form, elegance, and civility,
the First Empire had indeed taken hold during
the transformation of Napoleon from hero of
the Revolution to a different incarnation of
Emperor, Chopin as well would be beholden
to later similarly reinstated French courts

so seemingly trivial an alteration speaks
volumes when one attentively listens, one
must do this with one’s heart

such a return to aristocratic principles is not
uncommon, incidentally, we seem, indeed, to
thirst for dynasties, if you’ll note the return of
late, of the Bushes, the Clintons, and most
recently the Canadian Trudeaux

Putin is another, though arguably somewhat
less democratic, version of that principle

Beethoven is off the beat then, Schubert on, you
won’t find much else that’s different upon first
listening, you’ll note only that their music is very
much the same, rigorous beat, tonal, essentially,
harmonics, and the return eventually of the
melodies, Classical imperatives, but with the
distinction of the new Romantic,
transformational however, sensibilities

Schubert might’ve even outpaced Beethoven
had he survived, I think, but he didn’t, he died
much too young, at the most tender age of
only 31, younger even than the more
celebrated Mozart, famous for succumbing
prematurely at the still early age of 36

may they rest, may they all rest, Schubert,
Mozart, and the somewhat longer-lived
Beethoven, still early deceased at 56, in
eternal peace, for they have brought us
but wonders


psst: here’s a movie to go with the earlier
, The Company of Strangers“,
the very best film Canada has ever had
to offer, bar none, a gaggle of old women
are stranded in the Laurentians after their
tour bus breaks down, Schubert would’ve
loved it

and been honoured

Evgeny Kissin – a bouquet of composers‏

midway in my considerations about music I
came to myself in a dark wood for the straight
way was lost, if I may paraphrase Dante for my
own purposes, I’d digressed to Elizabeth Barrett
Browning, Audrey Hepburnand others, and
forgot what I had been talking about with
respect to the development of music, but have
been wonderfully, and perhaps even karmically, 
put back on track by this correspondingly 
Evgeny Kissin had provided a resplendent
haven’t yet finished enjoying often, but
found among his other Internet offerings
at first I wondered about the Schubert/Liszt
connection in the written introduction to the
program, they’d been united by a forward
slash, implying that there’d been some kind
of cooperation, but I hadn’t ever heard of
those two ever meeting  
upon very little investigation however I found
out that Liszt had merely transcribed of course
some of the Schubert lieder, something which 
Liszt was wont to do, Liszt transcribed
everybody and everything, most famously all
of Beethoven’s symphonies, writing them
up for piano only, so that more remote areas
could also enjoy them, in often even there 
aristocratic salon settings
lieder are songs in German, a lied, a song,
works Schubert produced in astonishingly
great number
Liszt was paraphrasing Schubert for his own 
Lisztian purposes of course, artists do that, 
which is to say he was giving them much
more Lisztian fanfare and, not unwelcome,
I might add, extravagance, Schubert could
be pretty dry, I think, in his lieder,
uncharacteristically, even his fun ones, 
despite their being ever so eminently
und der Bach  from Die schöne Müllerin“, one
of his song cycles,Ständchen” from
Schwanengesang“, another cycle, Gretchen
 am Spinnrade“, and Erlkönigare all poems
of celebrated German poets Schubert set for
accompanied voice, and that Lizst, and Kissin,  
transform into something pretty special   
next on the program Schubert takes independent
flight with his wondrous “Wanderer” Fantasy,
opus 15, D760
a fantasy is not a sonata for having only one
movement, but note this fantasy goes through
all the motions of a sonata, fast, slow, fast, each
with its own structural contrasts, but without
any of the intervening pauses
so is a fantasy just a sonata without breaks, or is
a sonata just a fantasy with hiatuses, had the
sonata become a fantasy, had the fantasy
become a sonata, definitions were being
upended, then again that’s what revolutions
are about
before Beethoven this had been unheard of
when music hadn’t yet learned to actually talk,
mean something, Schubert, like Beethoven,
not only talks, not only narrates, as in for
 “Pastoral“,  nor either describes, as in
but actually speculates, ponders, moves 
metaphysically forward, in thrall to his
vagabond spirit much more than to his
wayward heart 
hence, incidentally, the more abstract, less
geographical, “Wanderer”, to compare with
for instance Liszt’s more panoramic
see also Caspar David Friedrich here for 
a close contemporary counterpart of his
in art
music has become no longer merely narration 
then but philosophy, it is finding its way like
the rest of us, and for the rest of us, to the
Bach then intervenes here with a Siciliana, a
Baroque composer in Kissin’s Romantic
clothing, but the shoe entirely fits, and
hauntingly, you’ll remember Bach was
composing for the harpsichord, which
had none of the piano’s resonance 
Brahms then returns us to a more abstruse
Romanticism, “7 Fantasies”, his opus 17,
pushes the limits of melodic continuity, you
can’t sing Brahms, you’re not even drawn to     
seven fantasies in one opus, incidentally,
suggests a sonata with seven movements,
with all of the permutations that have been  
suggested already for the fantasy I talked
about, it’s open season on sonatas, in
other words, and by extension their less
segmented fantasies  
it is the history of art 
the final piece is totally transcendent, some
incidental music from Glück, from his sublime
Orfeo ed Euridice“, one of my very favourite
operas, Orpheus approaches the Underworld
in order to retrieve his beloved bride, we are
about to enter the Elysian Fields, the actual,
original Champs Élysées, or Elysium, with
him, the moment is unforgettable
others have led us into the Underworld, most
notably Homer in the “Odyssey“, Virgil in the
Aeneid“, and of couse, somewhat more
recently but just, Dante in his Divine Comedy“,
even Bosch in his Garden of Earthly Delights”  
Glück is the one whose hereafter you won’t
not  remember  

Franz Schubert – String Quintet in C major, D 956‏

"Schubert at the Piano" II (1899) - Gustav Klimt

Schubert at the Piano (1899)

Gustav Klimt


the Filarmonica Quartet, which I’d earlier described
as “not at all unimpressive”, show themselves here,
performing Schubert‘s otherworldly String Quintet
in C major, D 956
, to be the very sound of those
angels Schubert calls upon to perform his
miraculous music

their hometown Novosibirsk audience will continue
however to stubbornly, shamelessly, cough, in
scattered places, though the angels themselves,
the players, seem not especially distraught, they
play with great conviction, patience and tolerance
throughout superbly, caught up surely in their own
Schubertian Nirvana, a not uninstructive response

the Filarmonica Quartet of course will need a fifth
to play with them a quintet, who is, I think, the
extra cello at the front on the right, uncredited,
the piece calls for two violins, a viola and two
cellos, instead of the standard, at the time, extra
viola, surely for their greater and more resonant
chthonic character, which is to say, triggered by
the very earth

Franz Schubert, 1797-1828, died much too young,
only 31, this piece was completed not two months
before he passed away

it is also therefore a very haunting last testament


psst: D is for Otto Erich Deutsch