The Schubert Project - Oxford Lieder Festival

Last year, even before the Oxford Lieder Festival 2013 began, its webpage already announced the Festival 2014, “The Schubert Project”: they intended to offer a complete performance of Schubert’s Lieder. Yes. The whole lot. Every single Lied.

That means about six hundred fifty songs, which is easier said than done. Such an initiative has my full admiration, regardless who the honoured composer is. Although, in fact,  we are talking about Schubert, the apple of my eye! If we were on Twitter, I would add here two or three < 3 which, after pressing the Return key, would become two or three hearts, but we are on a blog (a very serious one indeed) so you will have to imagine them.

I've been following The Project Schubert on the social networks during all this year and I can't help posting about it just to share with you how pleased I am with this project and also let you know about it (just in case you don't). The festival is starting within a month on October 10th in Oxford, (some concerts are going to be held in London the previous week) and is going to last until November 1st. Three weeks and almost sixty concerts; most of them are going to be song recitals, of course, but in addition most of Schubert's part-songs are going to be played, as well as chamber works and sacred music works (during the religious services every Sunday).

There will also be a series of masterclasses with some of the pianists and singers who take part in concerts, lectures, family concerts and activities at the Botanical Garden, the Ashmolean Museum and the Bodleian Library,... Even some restaurants and pubs are going to offer Viennese dishes. What about the artists? The list is so long that first, I chose and wrote down a few names but finally, I erased them; I think you'd better visit and browse the festival website. You’ll see some of them on this video, presenting the festival and talking beautifully about Schubert which is always good to listen:

My warmest congratulations to the organization, led by its artistic director, the pianist Sholto Kynoch. I can't even imagine how difficult it is to put together a festival like this one, thinking of the budget to start with. By the way, either if we go or don’t, we all can get involved in this project by sponsoring one of the Schubert's songs. Today we are listening to mine, a beautiful nocturne, not as known as, in my opinion, it deserves, perhaps because it's longer than usual. However, as this is a short post, I think we can devote some time to this Lieder: An der Mond in einer Herbstnacht (To the moon on an Autumn night), upon a poem by Aloys Wilhelm Schreiber. We're repeating the last week’s performers, Simon Keenlyside and Malcolm Martineau.

An den Mond in einer Herbstnacht 

Freundlich ist dein Antlitz,
Söhn des Himmels!
Leis sind deine Tritte
Durch des Äthers Wüste,
Holder Nachtgefährte!

Dein Schimmer ist sanft und erquickend,
Wie das Wort des Trostes
Von des Freundes Lippe,
Wenn ein schrecklicher Geier
An der Seele nagt.

Manche Träne siehst du,
Siehst so manches Lächeln,
Hörst der Liebe trauliches Geflüster,
Leuchtest ihr auf stillem Pfade;
Hoffnung schwebt auf deinem Strahle,
Herab zum stillen Dulder,
Der verlassen gebt auf bedorntem Weg.

Du siehst auch meine Freunde,
Zerstreut in fernen Landen;
Du giessest deinen Schimmer
Auch auf die frohen Hügel,
Wo ich oft als Knabe hüpfte,
Wo oft bei deinem Lächeln
Ein unbekanntes Sehnen
Mein junges Herz ergriff.

Du blickst auch auf die Stätte,
Wo meine Lieben ruhn,
Wo der Tau fällt auf ihr Grab,
Und die Gräser drüber weh’n
In dem Abendhauche.

Doch dein Schimmer dringt nicht
In die dunkle Kammer,
Wo sie ruhen von des Lebens Müh’n,
Wo auch ich bald ruhen werde!
Du wirst geh’n und Wiederkehren,
Du wirst seh’n noch manches Lächeln,
Dann werd’ ich nicht mehr lächeln,
Dann werd’ ich nicht mehr weinen,
Mein wird man nicht mehr gedenken
Auf dieser schönen Erde.

Friendly is your face,
son of the sky!
Gentle are your steps
through the wasteland of ether,
lovely night companion!

Your glow is gentle and refreshing,
like words of solace
from the lips of a friend
when some terrible woe
gnaws on the soul.

You see many tears,
and many smiles;
you hear the intimate whispers of lovers,
and light their silent way;
hope floats down on your rays
to the silent suffering one;
the forsaken one continues on his thorny way.

You see also my friends,
scattered in far lands:
you pour your light
also on those cheerful hills
where as a boy I often played and jumped,
and where, at your smile,
an unknown longing
gripped my young heart.

You gaze down also on those places
where my loved ones rest,
where the dew falls upon their graves
and the grass above them waves
in the evening breeze.

Yet your light does not penetrate
the dark chamber
where they rest from life's misery,
where soon I shall rest as well!
You shall go and then return;
you shall see many a smile yet;
but I will smile no more
and weep no more;
no one will think about me again
upon this fair earth.

(translation by Emily Ezust)


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