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<<  -- 2 --  Roderic Dunnett    THE NORTHERN SCHUBERT

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As Schubert approached his greatest, Loewe had already arrived. Born just two months before his greater Austrian rival (on 30 November 1796; Schubert was born on 31 January 1797), Loewe survived him by over forty years.

Yet by the 1840s even the once admiring (and now turncoat) Schumann classed Loewe as passé. Gradually his songs and wider oeuvre -- symphonies, piano concertos, several oratorios, four quartets -- faded from the repertoire. Of his four hundred or more songs, only the ballads lived on, remaining popular in Victorian and later Edwardian England (Prince Albert himself turned the pages when Loewe, who both sang and played his own songs, gave a Royal command performance).

Perhaps that was what 'did for' Carl Loewe : 'ballad' reeks too much of music hall; even Weber's ballads have largely been consigned to the dust-heap. Loewe's titles sound like a Schubert roll-call : Edward, der erlkönig, Meine Ruh ist hin, Wandrers Nachtlied. Isn't there a grave danger of comparing David with Goliath?

'No, I don't think that's true at all', says German scholar Richard Stokes, who has provided many of the series' translations, and who supplied a spoken introduction to each of the songs at the St John's recital. 'Take Mein Rüh ist hin (Schubert's Gretchen am Spinnrade) : how the seventeen-year-old Schubert managed to probe the psychology is truly extraordinary; yet Loewe's setting, if not as great, is in its way wonderful too. Schubert starts the poem softly, but in the original Goethe it's not like that : the girl is emotionally and sexually aroused, she's pent up and excited. Loewe starts right in there, it's passionate and loud; and actually more faithful to the text.'

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Copyright © 7 February 2002 Roderic Dunnett, Coventry, UK

 

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INTERNATIONAL CARL LOEWE SOCIETY

LISTEN TO LOEWE SONGS AND PIANO SONATAS ON CPO

A LOEWE SYMPHONY & PIANO CONCERTO ON KOCH

AN HISTORIC CARL LOEWE RECORDING

CARL LOEWE AT AMAZON.COM

FISCHER-DIESKAU SINGS LOEWE ON DG

 

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