Classical Music | Soprano

Robert Schumann

Liebeslied, Op. 51, No. 5  Play

Hyunah Yu Soprano
Alon Goldstein Piano

Recorded on 11/05/2008, uploaded on 05/02/2009

Musician's or Publisher's Notes

Continuing the development of the German Lied which Franz Schubert had begun, Schumann raised the form to a new level of poetical expression. He began composing for piano and voice in 1840—the same year he finally married Clara Wieck. Known as the "Year of Song," he produced no less than 130 songs in that year alone. Among these were the Myrthen and Dichterliebe cycles which contain some of Schumann's most widely popular songs. In general, his songs are characterized by a close integration of the piano and vocal line, stating that the piano was no mere accompaniment but, instead, a vital means of augmenting the expression of the lyrics.

Three of the five songs that make up the Lieder und Gesänge Vol. II, op. 51 were composed during the Year of Song and the set as a whole was published in 1850. The first song, "Sehnsucht" ("Yearning") by Emanuel Geibel, expresses a longing for a halcyon land somewhere in the south, yet the poet is trapped in the barren north. Cast in a rather loose strophic form, the melody is wistful with a repeated-chord accompaniment that mostly mimics the voice. The second song, "Volkliedchen" ("Little Folksong") by Rückert, is set quite simply and appropriately to its title. The narrator here expresses her feelings for her lover as she walks through her garden every morning. The middle song of the set, "Ich wand're nicht" ("I do not wander") by Christern, is cast in a straightforward strophic form and tells of the poet's lack of desire to travel the world because his beloved will not accompany him.

Dating from 1846, the fourth song, "Auf dem Rhein" ("On the Rhine") by K. L. Immermann, makes reference to the Nibelungen that would later serve as the basis for Richard Wagner's magnificent Ring cycle. The narrator compares her lover to the treasure hid at the bottom of the Rhine and which no one can steal away from her. The setting is solemen with the vocal line being almost chant-like accompanied by plain chords in the piano.

The final song of the set, "Liebeslied" ("Love Song") dates from 1850 and is by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe—a poet whose works many composers have set to music. The poem expresses a longing to be with one's admirer and the fact that such a union is unattainable. Schumann's setting of Goethe's poem differs widely from the four songs that precede it, the poignant subject demanding a sensitive interplay between voice and piano—a technique Schumann could exercise masterly.     Joseph DuBose