Robert Schumann

Liederkreis, 12 songs for voice & piano, Op. 39

    Description by Anne Feeney

    Schumann was such a quick and prolific composer that it's often difficult to draw distinct points of development in his style, but Schumann himself described these songs as "my most Romantic music ever." The Eichendorff texts are (with the exception of "Intermezzo," in which the location is not specified) all set outdoors, often with direct references to nature, and each refers to travel, whether thoughts traveling to a beloved or a physical journey, both typical Romantic concepts. They are also highly Romantic in their expressive moodiness, whether ecstatic or melancholy, and the occasional aura of mystery, whether the unexplained tears of the bride in "Auf einer Burg" or the supernatural in "Waldesgesprach." Schumann's selection of these varied poems itself creates a Romantic juxtaposition of emotions, and the passionate settings capture and emphasize those aspects.

    They also show Schumann's increasing sophistication as a song composer; the piano becomes more important in its own right, and the scene painting from the piano is among Schumann's best, creating the desired effects immediately and with no excess. (The exception is the relentlessly jolly "Der frohe Wandersmann," which originally opened the cycle and which Schumann left out of the 1850 and subsequent editions.) For example, "Waldesgesprach" uses an alluring lyrical figure that quickly paints the seductive, wild figure of the Lorelei, a recitative-like dialog between the protagonists, and a hunting theme that first depicts the man as the hunter and the woman as the object of his hunt, and repeats at the end, ironically, to show the reversal of roles by the end of the song. There are quick characterizations, such as the sudden surge at "du schöne Braut" suggesting an eager lunge towards the lady, and the almost smugly seductive decrescendo on the honeyed "heim."

    The cycle is atypical of Schumann in the relative lack of musical linkages between and among the songs. There is no piano postlude reprising a theme from the first song, as there is in "Frauenliebe und -leben" or "Dichterliebe," and while there are tonal connections between songs, most notably between "Auf einer Burg" and the following "In der Fremde" (which also share similar imagery), they are less closely constructed than the connections in other song cycles.

    Schumann often integrated references to his and Clara's love in his songs and his instrumental and orchestral writing. In the second song, "Intermezzo," he includes the famous "Clara theme," a descending five-note pattern that in German notation spells out her name. Numerous elements of the cycle reflect events of Schumann's own life -- from blissful love to the wedding procession that fills the listener with sorrow in "Im Walde," paranoia in "Zwielicht," and finally the various images of death.

    Parts/Movements

    1. In der Fremde
    2. Intermezzo
    3. Waldesgespräch
    4. Die Stille
    5. Mondnacht
    6. Schöne Fremde
    7. Auf einer Burg
    8. In der Fremde
    9. Wehmut
    10. Zwielicht
    11. Im Walde
    12. Frühlingsnacht

    Appears On

    Year Title / Performer Label / Catalog # AllMusic Rating
    2019
    Avie
    AV 2407
    2019
    Deutsche Grammophon
    4837046
    2017
    Sony Classical
    88985416702
    2017
    Warner Classics
    0190295886714
    2017
    Linn Records
    CKD 511
    2017
    Profil - Edition Günter Hänssler
    PH 17042
    2016
    Sony Classical / Sony Music Distribution
    88875032272
    2016
    Decca / Philips
    4788977
    2016
    Nimbus / Nimbus Records
    NI 5932
    2016
    Decca / London
    2015
    Warner Classics
    553028
    2015
    MSR Classics
    MS 1513
    2015
    Linn Records
    CKD 474
    2015
    Various Artists
    Brilliant Classics
    95020BR
    2015
    Decca
    4788439
    2014
    Passacaille
    PAS 1001
    2014
    Brilliant Classics
    94694
    2014
    Decca
    4808181
    2014
    Deutsche Grammophon
    2013
    Capriccio Records
    C 5166
    2013
    Newton Classics
    8802198
    2013
    Naxos
    8557080
    2013
    Finlandia
    464740
    2013
    EMI Classics / Warner Classics
    5099990377
    2012
    Sony Classical
    88691912562
    2012
    Hyperion
    CDA 67944
    2011
    Onyx
    ONYX 4052
    2011
    Alto
    1091
    2011
    Membran
    232763
    2010
    EMI Classics / Warner Classics
    5099945635229
    2010
    Documents
    233039
    2010
    Harmonia Mundi
    501766
    2010
    Ars Musici
    232213
    2010
    Genuin
    10532
    2010
    Phil.Harmonie
    PHIL 6002
    2010
    EMI Classics / Warner Classics
    5099960902
    2010
    Deutsche Grammophon
    002894778816
    2009
    Denon Records
    2009
    Harmonia Mundi
    902031
    2009
    Denon Records
    2008
    Regis Records
    1051
    2008
    RCA Red Seal
    88697168172
    2008
    Novalis
    150189
    2008
    Avie
    AV2134
    2008
    Romeo Entertainment
    7260
    2008
    Deutsche Grammophon
    4777957
    2008
    Chandos
    10492
    2008
    Gala Records
    110
    2007
    Wigmore Hall Live
    15
    2007
    Audite
    95582
    2007
    Berlin Classics
    8406
    2007
    Hyperion
    33110
    2006
    Danacord
    647/48
    2006
    Haenssler
    98235
    2006
    Universal Classics & Jazz
    2005
    Orfeo D'Or
    339050
    2005
    Preiser Records
    93438
    2005
    EMI Classics
    68509
    2005
    EMI Classics
    2005
    Northern Flowers
    9915
    2005
    Orfeo
    658051
    2005
    Philips
    000450402
    2005
    Philips / Universal Classics & Jazz
    2004
    EMI Classics
    85614
    2004
    EMI Music Distribution
    62771
    2003
    Philips
    464991
    2003
    Harmonia Mundi
    901766
    2003
    Brilliant
    99948
    2002
    Westminster
    471269
    2002
    Warner Fonit
    0927-43312-2
    2001
    Musica Viva
    1050
    2000
    BBC Music
    8801
    2000
    Angel Records
    73836
    2000
    Deutsche Grammophon
    447042
    1999
    Hyperion
    55011
    1999
    EMI Music Distribution
    72828
    1999
    Decca
    460797
    1999
    BBC Music
    8006
    1998
    ATMA Classique
    22150
    1998
    Naxos
    8554219
    1997
    Carlton Classics
    02022
    1997
    Camerata Records
    25CM16
    1996
    Tall Poppies
    023
    1995
    Sony Music Distribution
    57972
    1995
    Denon Records
    78947
    1995
    Berlin Classics
    0090682
    1994
    EMI Music Distribution
    68146
    1994
    Teldec
    74872
    1994
    Capriccio Records
    10099
    1993
    Dorian
    90132
    1993
    BMG
    61225
    1993
    Hyperion
    66596
    1992
    Erato
    45740
    1987
    Philips
    420 784-2PH
    1986
    Philips
    416352
    1985
    Deutsche Grammophon
    4151902
    EMI Music Distribution
    567687
    Capriccio Records
    10215
    Teldec
    Brilliant
    99948/2
    BBC Music Magazine
    122
    RCA
    5664
    Ricordi
    2013
    Voce Della Luna
    2005
    Ars Produktion
    368302