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Schubert collection

Home | 2017 | May

Schubert: Greatest Hits

Posted by Richard on UTC 2017-05-01 14:29.

The problem is the same when someone wants to get to know the work of any classical composer: which pieces to start with, performed by whom and in what selection. It is no different when the composer is Schubert – perhaps even more difficult simply because of the quantity of small pieces: 600 Lieder alone.

The list below is a selection of Schubert's works that is intended to help a person unfamiliar with them to get started. It is not comprehensive: much excellent and beautiful music is not on the list. This is a list of single works, not CD albums. The classical music business likes to keep the commercial pot boiling by issuing selection after selection in various flavours of performers, making it impossible here to recommend one album over the other.

The list only reproduces opus numbers or key signatures when they are indelibly part of the title of the piece. Since Otto E. Deutsch compiled his epic catalogue of Schubert's works and gave each piece a 'D' number, opus numbers are a fussy irrelevance for most listeners, as are key signatures. This type of meaningless fusspottery is the unacceptable face of classical music.

Lieder

Performers: Fischer-Dieskau rarely puts a foot wrong. Some of the songs make more sense sung by women: your choice. Very, very few non-native speakers are convincing Lied-singers. Of German male singers, Hans Hotter had a fine bass with good enunciation, Thomas Quasthoff is too slow and lingering for my taste. Matthias Goerne is even slower.

D Title First line
118 Gretchen am Spinnrade Meine Ruh' ist hin, mein Herz ist schwer
162 Nähe des Geliebten Ich denke dein, wenn mir der Sonne Schimmer
225 Der Fischer Das Wasser rauscht', das Wasser schwoll
257 Heidenröslein Sah ein Knab' ein Röslein stehn
328 Der Erlkönig Wer reitet so spät durch Nacht und Wind?
343 Litanei auf das Fest Allerseelen Ruh'n in Frieden alle Seelen
478 Gesänge des Harfners III Wer nie sein Brot mit Tränen aß
489 Der Wanderer Ich komme vom Gebirge her
531 Der Tod und das Mädchen Vorüber, ach vorüber
536 Der Schiffer Im winde, im Sturme
550 Die Forelle In einem Bächlein helle
741 Sei mir gegrüßt O du Entrißne mir
768 Wandrers Nachtlied Über allen Gipfeln ist Ruh
774 Auf dem Wasser zu singen Mitten im Schimmer der spiegelnden Wellen
775 Daß sie hier gewesen Daß der Ostwind Düfte hauchet
776 Du bist die Ruh Du bist die Ruh, der Friede mild
800 Der Einsame Wenn meine Grillen schwirren
871 Das Zügenglöcklein Kling die Nacht durch, klinge
881 Fischerweise Den Fischer fechten Sorgen
891 An Sylvia Was ist Silvia, saget an
904 Alinde Die Sonne sinkt in's tiefe Meer
905 An die Laute Leiser, leiser, kleine Laute
917 Das Lied im Grünen Ins Grüne, ins Grüne, da lockt uns der Frühling
933 Des Fischers Liebesglück Dort blinket durch Weiden

Lieder from song cycles

Some purists will recoil at our disembowelling of the song cycles Die schöne Müllerin and Winterreise in this list. It seems unreasonable, though, to expect someone who is toe-dipping to set aside the hour or so needed for each of the full cycles. If the toe-dip is pleasurable they will do the full cycle at some point anyway.

D/No. Title First line
795 Die schöne Müllerin
1 Das Wandern Das Wandern ist des Müllers Lust
2 Wohin? Ich hört' ein Bächlein rauschen
3 Halt! Eine Mühle seh' ich blinken
4 Danksagung an den Bach War es also gemeint
8 Morgengruß Guten Morgen, schöne Müllerin
9 Des Müllers Blumen Am Bach viel kleine Blumen stehn
10 Tränenregen Wir saßen so traulich beisammen
911 Winterreise
1 Gute Nacht Fremd bin ich eingezogen
2 Die Wetterfahne Der Wind spielt mit der Wetterfahne
3 Gefror'ne Tränen Gefror'ne Tropfen fallen
5 Der Lindenbaum Am Brunnen vor dem Tore
6 Wasserflut Manche Trän' aus meinen Augen
13 Die Post Von der Straße her ein Posthorn klingt
17 Im Dorfe Es bellen die Hunde
20 Der Wegweiser Was vermeid' ich denn die Wege
21 Das Wirtshaus Auf einen Totenacker
23 Die Nebensonnen Drei Sonnen sah ich
24 Der Leiermann Drüben hinterm Dorfe steht ein Leiermann

Instrumental

Apart from the Trout Quintet and the Wanderer Fantasy, the list contains works from Schubert's last two years. No symphonies? No symphonies. This list is intended as a toe-dipper and therefore has to be short. It is not in the least bit representative. Every Schubert fan would make a different list.

If this list is too long for you start with the Impromptus D 899 and D 935 in that order. Both develop their magic over several listenings.

Performers: In the piano works Brendel delivers consistently high quality. Stephen Kovacevich produced a spectacularly good interpretation of D 960. Mstislav Rostropovich and the Melos Quartet set the bar high for D 956. There is an ancient performance of D 934 by Serkin and Busch – with terrible sound quality – which is waiting for its spiritual equal.

D Title
667 Trout Quintet
760 Wanderer Fantasy
780 Six Moments musicaux
898 Trio in B-flat major
899 Four Impromptus for piano
929 Trio in E-flat major
934 Fantasy in C major
935 Four Impromptus for piano
940 Fantasy in F minor for piano duet
956 String Quintet in C major
958 Piano Sonata in C minor
959 Piano Sonata in A major
960 Piano Sonata in B-flat major