Franz Schubert: Lied das Florio

Written by Benjamin Sosland

In category: Song of the Day

Published February 5, 2018

Schubert. So many songs, and yet so few of them are heard in performance. Here is one of my favorite lesser known gems sung by the amazing Nicolai Gedda. For me, he’s the perfect mix of bel canto ease and just plain class. And I, for one, don’t mind that the recording has not been airbrushed to perfection using all the gewgaws of modern-day recording technology. There are a few blemishes in pitch and tone that make it all the more human. And it’s a really hard song! Schubert requires a heck of a task to float up to a high A a couple of times; the vocal lines are long and sustained; and, as is mostly the case with Schubert, there’s nowhere to hide over such an elegantly simple piano accompaniment. (The two-bar postlude is heart-wrenching to me.) This is a serenade—you could imagine a guitar or plucked strings instead of piano, an idea made plain by the poem’s first stanza:

Nun, da Schatten niedergleiten,
Und die Lüfte zärtlich wehen,
Dringet Seufzen aus der Seele,
Und umgirrt die treuen Saiten.

Now that shadows glide down
And the breezes gently blow,
Sighs drawn from the soul
Caress the faithful strings.

But after this placid opening line, we learn, in typical Romantic fashion, that our poet has been wronged in love and he pleads with night to “wrap around me.” This song hypnotizes me with its subtle harmonic shifts. The sequence that starts at 1:30 is a thing of lyric perfection. More rarely heard Schubert, please!

select author’s name to read all of their posts

Benjamin Sosland holds several artistic and administrative positions that reflect a wide-ranging musical curiosity. As the founding administrative director of Juilliard Historical Performance, he has been responsible for creating, implementing, and overseeing the School’s newest degree program, which The New York Times has credited for the renaissance in early music in New York. Under his leadership, the department has established itself as one of the leading programs of its kind, combining a rigorous curriculum with frequent performances on the national and international stage. Mr. Sosland has helped develop key partnerships with Les Arts Florissants, the English Concert, the Yale Institute of Sacred Music, and with the Utrecht Early Music Festival where Juilliard was the first-ever conservatory-in-residence. He is a frequent preconcert lecturer at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center and he has served on the jury at the Van Wassaenar International Early Music Competition. He has been the research associate and program editor for the New York Festival of Song and a score consultant for the Metropolitan Opera’s Live in HD series of satellite transmissions since this groundbreaking series of broadcasts began. Trained as a tenor, he has performed with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, the Gotham Chamber Opera, and American Opera Projects and has been the guest of several summer music festivals, including the Marlboro Music Festival, the Ravinia Festival’s Steans Institute for Young Artists, and the Aspen and Bowdoin Summer Music Festivals. Mr. Sosland holds degrees from the Eastman School of Music and The Juilliard School, where he is the assistant dean for the Kovner Fellowships, overseeing the school’s elite scholarship program, and a member of the Graduate Studies faculty. His course offerings have included such topics as entrepreneurship for musicians, the dramatic works of Monteverdi, Paris between the wars, and the literary operas of Benjamin Britten.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *