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Songs of Yearning
By Giorgos Kanaris and Thomas Wise. By Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) and Franz Schubert (1797-1828). Classical. CD. Haenssler Classic #HC16080. Published by Haenssler Classic (NX.HC16080).
Item Number: NX.HC16080
Whenever a definition is made in an attempt to distinguish one artistic concept from others, such delineation becomes an art in itself and is sometimes artificial. Music, let alone the musical genre of the art song, is no exception. Catch-all headings make matters easier. The two song cycles on this release certainly qualify as art songs. Ludwig van Beethoven wrote his opus 98 in 1816; musicologists commonly describe An die ferne Geliebte (to the distant beloved) as the first ever song cycle. Franz Schubert wrote his Schwanengesang (swan song) in 1828, the year of his death; the songs were posthumously made into a collection. In terms of its musicological and sociological development, the Lied, having long been considered "inferior," underwent a kind of emancipation process throughout the early modern period up until the start of the 19th century, when the emergence of the educated middle-class, particularly in the German-speaking world, allowed the new genre to take root. Such songs were performed at small venues too: in salons, small halls and before audiences that were not necessarily aristocratic of courtly. Dynamically versatile and affordable, the piano was now a common keyboard instrument and was often used to accompany the vocalist with supportive harmonies and melodic counterpoint.