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The final approach

Schubertreise XV coming up fast: the performance takes place this Sunday in Bever

(see events page). The gargantuan "Leichenfantasie" is done and dusted, as well as the humorous "Totengräberlied". The recital is dominated once again by differing versions of the same song. So, for instance, we get to hear the two versions of "Thekla" and "Geistes-Gruss" as well as the three versions of "Der Jüngling am Bache" — and this song is particularly interesting, since the first version is a cheerful through-composed affair with a lot of surface charm, the second a strophic setting in the minor key,while the third, also strophic, and also in the minor key, is a kind of amalgam of the two previous versions. Despite the fact that the note of optimism struck in the last verse of the poem is only done justice to in the first setting, the third version pips it to the post in terms of manipulation of thematic material (heavens, how hard it is to write about good music! No problem when it comes to the weaker stuff...)

Our recital concludes with the time-bound "Die Befreier Europas in Paris', a nine-verse affair which we have cut down to two. Schubert's enthusiasm for Napoleon's defeat in Paris in 1814 is understandable, particularly in the light of the war-induced plummeting value of Austrian currencyand the subsequent impact this had on his scolarship to the Stadskonvikt, but the verses, reminding us that Paris had been "liberated", sit uncomfortably with our 20th century historical conditioning. To Schubert and his contemporaries of course the jackboots were firmly on the feet of French troops, but today that conviction rings hollow. In addition the fawning verses themselves, by his schoolfriend Mikan, are positively cringe-worthy. That having been said, the fourteen year old Schubert manages to scrape together some half decent ideas, but it's obvious that this sort of song can only find its place in a performance of the complete Lieder.

Schubertreise XV, Sunday March 8th at 5pm, Rosario, Poreel 10a, 1547 Bever, Belgium. Booking advisable:

There are other activities linked to the recital on the day itself: a walk in the woods of Silly (sic!), a lecture on Napoleon by musicologist Sabien Van Daele, lunch (and dinner after the recital). Full details on

Looking forward to seeing you there!

Conor Biggs and Michel Stas

Near Petit-Roeulx, Province of Hainaut, Belgium

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