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Schubert - Ständchen, D.920 - Baker

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Published on Dec 20, 2008

Hi-res and stereo:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O-2780...

Ständchen, D. 920 (Op. posth. 135)
for alto, chorus & piano

Composed by Franz Schubert, on July 1827
Text: Franz Grillparzer

Janet Baker, mezzo soprano
English Chamber Orchestra Chorus
Raymond Leppard, Piano

Recording date: December 1976

D 920 is one of the three "Ständchen"s composed by Franz Schubert. Anna Fröhlich, one of Schubert's students, commissioned it for Louise Gosmar's birthday.

"Gerhard von Breuning has transmitted the story of its origin as told by Anna Fröhlich:

Another time Anna told me: 'Whenever the birthday or nameday of [Fräulein] Gosmar... was approaching I always went to Grillparzer and asked him to write something for the occasion and I did this once more as her birthday drew near. () In a few days he gave me the "Ständchen", "Leise klopf' ich mit gekrümmtem Finger.." And when Schubert came to see us shortly afterwards, I said to him 'Look, Schubert, you must set this to music for me.' He: 'Well, let's have a look at it.' Leaning against the piano he read it through repeatedly, exclaiming over and over again 'But how beautiful it is - it's so beautiful!' He looked thus at the sheet of paper for a while and finally said 'There, it is finished now, I've got it already.' And only three days later he really did bring it to me, finished, set for mezzo-soprano (that is, for my sister Pepi) and four men's voices. At this I said to him 'No, Schubert, I can't use it like this, it's meant to be a tribute from [Fräulein] Gosmar's women friends only. You must write me the chorus for women's voices.' I remember quite clearly saying this to him; he was sitting over there in the right-hand window recess of the ante-room. - And soon afterwards he brought it to me, set for Pepi's voice and women's chorus, as it is now.'
...
The two versions of "Ständchen" provide one of numerous instances of Schubert rewriting an already finished work. It is a special case in that it was a commissioned work, and the change was not brought about on his own initiative. Schubert often transposed songs, though we usually lack evidence that he did so at anyone else's request." - From "Schubert Studies" by Eva Badura-Skoda, Peter Branscombe

"Ständchen is a poem about the meaning of friendship; the sage mentioned in the text is Diogenes, who went around the agora in Athens in broad daylight, shining a light into people's eyes. Most Athenians tended to ignore him, much as modern passers-by would, probably dismissing him as a nutter; but one caring and enlightened fellow finally asked him why he was doing this. "Ah", cried Diogenes, brandishing his lantern, "I am looking for a human"." - Tina Breckwoldt

The version for mezzo-soprano and female chorus was performed for the first time at the occasion that it was commissioned for, on 11 August 1827, in the garden of the summer house near Vienna, where Louise Gosmar was staying at the time. It was performed by Anna Fröhlich on piano, her sister Josefine Fröhlich (Pepi) as the soloist, and a group of Anna's pupils forming the female chorus. Schubert himself was invited to play the piano but he never showed up. He later apologized to Anna saying, "Oh, I forgot about it."

The autograph of the first version (male chorus) of Ständchen is now in Vienna Stadtbibliothek. The autograph of the second version (female chorus) is in the library of the Academy of Music (Musashino Ongaku Daigaku) in Tokyo. - Eser

Text:

Zögernd, leise,
In des Dunkels nächt'ger Hülle
Sind wir hier.
Und den Finger sanft gekrümmt,
Leise, leise,
Pochen wir
An des Liebchens Kammerthür.

Doch nun steigend,
Schwellend, hebend,
Mit vereinter Stimme, laut
Rufen aus wir hochvertraut:
Schlaf du nicht,
Wenn der Neigung Stimme spricht!

Sucht' ein Weiser nah und ferne
Menschen einst mit der Laterne;
Wie viel seltner dann als Gold,
Menschen uns geneigt und hold?
Drum, wenn Freundschaft, Liebe spricht,
Freundin, Liebchen, schlaf du nicht!

Aber was in allen Reichen
Wär' dem Schlummer zu vergleichen?
Drum statt Worten und statt Gaben
Sollst du nun auch Ruhe haben.
Noch ein Grüßchen, noch ein Wort,
Es verstummt die frohe Weise,
Leise, leise,
Schleichen wir uns wieder fort!

Translation:

Softly, quietly,
in the dark silence of night
we approach.
With a gently bent finger,
quietly, quietly,
we knock
on darling's door.

Presently,
rising, swelling,
lifting our voices, loudly
we exclaim, intimately:
Do not sleep,
when love's voice speaks.

Did not a wise man once look high and low
for humans with a lantern?
How much rarer than gold
are people who like us?
So when friendship, love are speaking,
dearest, darling, don't you sleep.

But what in all the world
could be compared to slumber?
So instead of words and gifts
you shall have your peace.
One more greeting, one more word,
the cheerful song falls silent;
softly, quietly,
we slink away.

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