Le Chant du Cygne
To the two collections of Lieder found after Schubert's death, the publisher Haslinger added a fourteenth Lied and entitled the whole work Swan Song. So there's no point in looking for the coherence, architecture or dramaturgy of La Belle Meunière or Le Voyage d'hiver. And yet, if this false cycle has passed into posterity, is it not because of the plunge it offers into the heart of the composer's last days?
Anxieties, hopes, pain, nostalgia - these fourteen Lieder are so profound that they seem to put us in touch with the intimacy of Schubert's soul, in those final days when he was probably at his most vulnerable. If there is coherence, it is above all psychological, and stems from what was most singular and vital in this man. That's the starting point for this programme, both in its conception and in its interpretation.
In its conception: by highlighting a selection of Lieder that show the extent to which the themes that obsess Schubert were already fertilising his first Lieder (regret for absent love, despair for lost love, the omnipresence of the sea and nature, but also the imbuing of a mythological imagination), we feel and understand the extent to which the emotional charge of these themes is amplified in Swan Song at the same time as the inventiveness of the musical forms.
In his interpretation: the distinctive sound of an 1859 Érard piano (thirty years after Schubert's death) creates a continuity with the instruments for which these Lieder were composed. Its colourful yet extremely clear sonorities, its dynamic palette more subtle than on a modern piano but full of contrasts, encourage both pianist and singer to go further in the search for a primordial intimacy, a simplicity that is both fragile and strong, far removed from any mannerism.
It is on this contrasting journey through Schubert's last days that this disc sets out to take the listener.
It is a dark journey, to be sure, to the very edge of absolute despair, bordering on madness, but one that is nevertheless caressed by a secret light: the concluding Taubenpost, the last key to Schubert's world, welcomes that great unfulfilled desire that is Sehnsucht - as if to say that not to accept suffering is to refuse to live.
Running time: approx. 1h30 (with intermission)