Wanderer-Fantasie D.760

Composer: Franz Schubert (b. 1797 - d. 1828)
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Composer: Franz Schubert (b. 1797 - d. 1828)

Performance date: 27/06/2022

Venue: Bantry House

Composition Year: 1822

Duration: 00:21:24

Recording Engineer: Eduardo Prado, Ergodos

Instrumentation: pf

Instrumentation Category:Solo

Artists: Nathalia Milstein - [piano]

This programme features works from four master composers, who were also extraordinary pianists. And while the styles in structure, harmony and underlying expressions are totally different, they share some interesting characteristics. In the first place, all of them are very difficult to play well. In Schubert’s case, the technical demands on the pianist were something of a departure from his usual piano compositions. There is also, in all these works, some sense of change musically from what has gone before. In form and key, the Wanderer was inventive and original, the product of experimentation by Schubert, linking the entire work through a set of similar rhythms and creating a unity to the work that hadn’t been seen before, but which was to greatly influence later composers, especially Liszt. 

Schubert’s Fantasy is based on a song he wrote in 1816, Der Wanderer, a setting to a poem by Georg Lubeck. Each of the four movements of the Fantasy is constructed using elements from the song. The movements move seamlessly into each other, creating an epic, grand quality to the work. The archetype of the Wanderer was a figure familiar in European culture – a person who is free, often lonely, always a stranger and seeking but never attaining happiness. These traits are woven throughout the Fantasy – nostalgia, loneliness, longing and triumph. Schubert’s revisiting of the Wanderer themes in 1822 is surely linked to the personal trauma he was going through, the severe symptoms of his last illness were manifesting, and along with financial problems and bouts of his recurring depression, 1822 was one of his most difficult years. Throughout his life Schubert faced societal and financial constraints, and towards the end, the constraints of failing health, and it is hardly surprising that the character of the Wanderer, free if lonely and unfulfilled, should inspire him for his most extraordinary piano work.

Helen Dawson