In many details, the first edition of the cycle, which appeared in 1824, is unreliable – and this was soon apparent. When Anton Diabelli in 1830, one and a half years after Schubert’s death, acquired the rights of the cycle, he strove to improve the edition. Diabelli asked the famous singer Johann Michael Vogl, who had been a friend of Schubert, to arrange the vocal part in such a way that it would create the most possible resonance with the public. And this he did: he added – albeit sparingly – some embellishments he had sung himself, when Schubert accompanied him. In many places he saw fit to simplify a few things that he would not have expected of domestic music makers. Vogl and Diabelli had great success with this edition, which quickly superseded the original one.
In the course of the incipient Schubert researches of the second half of the 19th century the original edition was compared with Diabelli’s, and the “Fälschungen” (falsifications) were soon condemned (Max Friedlaender). Unquestionably, it is fair to say that Vogl’s “simplifications” are in fact inadmissible changes. But what about the embellishments?
Vogl’s embellishments for Die schöne Müllerin had a decidedly chamber-music character. Had he performed the whole cycle as a dramatic song cycle in the concert hall, this would undoubtedly have changed. But this shows us something essential: embellishments belong to the realm of performance, not of composition; each singer should invent them anew in keeping with the occasion of a performance. They do not belong in a printed edition, as they bind the singer; when printed they in fact become “falsifications”. That said, a performance practice that aims to be “historic” should not renounce embellishments either. The embellishments that Christoph Prégardien sings here take as their point of departure the type of embellishments preserved in Diabelli’s print (and in a few manuscripts), but where the singer introduces them and how he shapes them in each case is up to his own invention.
Schwanengesang ("Swan song") D.957 (Deutsch catalogue) is the title of a posthumous collection of songs by Franz Schubert.
The collection was named by its first publisher Tobias Haslinger, presumably wishing to present it as Schubert's final musical testament to the world. Unlike the earlier Die schöne Müllerin and Winterreise, it contains settings of three poets, Ludwig Rellstab (1799–1860), Heinrich Heine (1797–1856) and Johann Gabriel Seidl (1804–1875). Schwanengesang was composed 1828 and published in 1829 just a few months after the composer's death on 19 November 1828.
In the original manuscript in Schubert's hand, the first 13 songs were copied in a single sitting, on consecutive manuscript pages, and in the standard performance order. All the song titles are by Schubert, as Heine did not give names to the poems. (Reed 259) Tobias Haslinger, Schubert's publisher, collected the songs together as a cycle, most probably for financial reasons, as Die schöne Müllerin and Die Winterreise sold very well as collections. Taubenpost is considered to be Schubert's last Lied.
Franz Liszt later transcribed these songs for solo piano.
On 2 October 1828, Schubert (after the manuscript had been written) offered the Heine set of poems to a Leipzig publisher by the name of Probst. We can assume, then, that Schubert – at least in the beginning – intended to publish the sets separately. In addition to this, the order of Numbers 8–13 as they appear in the manuscript is different from that of the poems as Heine published them (No. 10 followed by 12, 11, 13, 9, 8). It was customary for Schubert to respect the poet's sequence; the manuscript may not represent Schubert's desired order. The Seidl song, Die Taubenpost, has no connection to the rest of the cycle and was appended by Haslinger at the end to round up all of Schubert's last compositions.
Schubert's "Winterreise" is one of the most famous song cycles that exist in classical music and musicians take it up again and again because of its beauty, sorrow and depth. It is about life itself and which performer does not want to give his or her opinion on life? Both tenor Christoph Prégardien and pianist Michael Gees have their own vision on the cycle. Playing together, a third view develops, combining their two visions into an exciting interpretation of Winterreise.
In this production the music lover has more ways than one to enjoy this Lieder cycle to the fullest. This luxurious Hybrid Super Audio edition (book SACD) contains song texts with English translations.