Franz Schubert

Am See ("Sitz' ich im Gras"), song for voice & piano, D. 124

    Description by James Leonard

    Am See (By the Lake) (D. 124) of December 7, 1814, was the first poem Schubert set by Johann Mayrhofer. Mayrhofer was a poet and civil servent, a man of great learning and erudition who loved classical culture but who was also a man of his time and even something of a quiet revolutionary. Introduced to the slightly older poet by a mutual friend, Schubert and Mayrhofer became extremely close friends and even lived together for several years. Schubert would ultimtely set 47 of Mayrhofer's poems, finding in Mayrhofer's sensibility a kindred spirit.

    Am See is far from the best of Schubert's Mayrhofer songs. A long, ballad-like poem in ten verses, Am See tells the story of a nobleman who sacrifices his life in order to save the lives of some of his subjects lost in a flood. Schubert responded by setting the poem as one of his household operas, that is, as a song that uses a wide range of musical devices to narrate the story. The first two verses are a brief art song, the third and fourth verses are a dramatic recitative, the fifth verse is an intimate song, the sixth through ninth verses are set as unmeasured recitatives even more dramatic than the earlier recitative, and the tenth and concluding verse is another tender song. Only in the final verse does Schubert seem to find his way to the heart of Mayrhofer: the sweet grief and tragic pessimism that were the poet's forte. In his later Mayrhofer settings, Schubert would explore this vein thoroughly, leaving behind the dramatic recitatives of his youth.

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2015 Brilliant Classics 95111BR
    2011 Naxos 8503801
    2010 DG Deutsche Grammophon 4778989
    2010 DG Deutsche Grammophon
    2005 Hyperion 44201
    2005 DG Deutsche Grammophon 4775765
    2005 DG Deutsche Grammophon
    2003 Naxos 8554739
    1993 DG Deutsche Grammophon 437215
    1992 Universal Music Classics and Jazz
    1989 Hyperion 33004
    Lys 169/170
    Preiser Records 93404
    Documents 223208303