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The Lied is at the heart of Schubert’s output. Throughout his short life, and right up to the weeks immediately before his death, he took a keen interest in every aspect of this genre, which constituted the most intimate expression of the German psyche, of which Schubert was from very early on well placed to act as a vehicle for its sentiments and its torments (love, friendship, pain, loneliness), ranging widely across its joys and its sorrows in all their subtle shadings. Schubert composed quickly, occasionally writing as many as nine or ten Lieder in a single day, with a prodigious fluency that won the admiration of Schumann.
A born song-writer, he loved to perform his own Lieder, accompanying himself on the piano; he admitted that he could get carried away by singing for hours on end. In Schubert’s songs, the voice is always the focus of attention, while the piano accompaniment provides a psychological backdrop. Less discriminating in his choice of poems than Schumann or Wolf, Schubert was more interested in verbal colouring and the emotional content of a text than in its literary value, and although his some six hundred Lieder are in a wide range of forms – from simple strophic songs to dramatic scenas – they are still characterised by their exceptional simplicity, freshness and spontaneity of utterance.
“Arleen Auger brings her special quality of chaste intimacy to gentle, small-scale performances of 23 of Schubert's most popular songs”
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