Category Archive 'Der Hirt Auf Dem Felsen'

09 May 2010

Der Hirt auf dem Felsen

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Moritz von Schwind, Schubertiade, 1867

I thought I ought to follow the example of my friends at Maggie’s Farm and, by way of sharing some personal knowledge of high points of the recorded repertoire, start making a regular practice of posting a link to particular performances and recordings.

This particular lieder performance by Elly Ameling is truly remarkable, indubitably the best single performance of Hirt auf dem Felsen ever. I found immediately, simply glancing through references on-line, that my own opinion is widely, and very articulately, shared.

The mp3 on YouTube is, alas! a pale shadow of the CD, which is, in turn, a pale shadow of the old LP version, but such is life.



N.A. writes in a 1990 Gramaphone review:

Few, if any Schubert song recitals, have given me as much pleasure over the years as this one by the Dutch soprano, Elly Ameling. Originally… issued (on a long-playing record titled a) “Schubertiade.”… Ameling’s voice was perhaps at its very best at this time. ..

Der Hirt auf dem Felsen [features] the clarinettist, Hans Deinzer, playing an elderly instrument of unspecified provenance. … Ameling is sensitively accompanied… by Jorg Demus whose intimate playing on a fortepiano tuned with exquisite imperfection has proved over the years an indispensable ingredient of the Schubertiade. Demus brings more expression to the accompaniment than most, with beautifully judged rubato and delicately shaded dynamics. Ameling, fervent and wistful, with faultless intonation, impeccable diction and a rare warmth of sentiment leaves an indelible mark on the sensibilities; it’s a performance to treasure for a lifetime.

At Amazon, Russell F. Scalf of Berkeley, California writes:

Elly Ameling’s breathtaking performance of The Shepherd on the Rock just goes right through me. This may be my ‘island’ recording. You know, if you are banished to an island with just one recording forever, which one would it be? Maybe this one.

D Bullock of Newtown, Massachusetts, adds:

One of Schubert’s last and greatest songs (and that’s saying a lot for arguably the greatest songwriter of any era) was The Shepherd on the Rock (Der Hirt auf dem Felsen). This song, in which the soprano is joined by piano and clarinet, is very long and extremely challenging, because there are three distinct moods to be communicated by the singer, to say nothing of the sheer vocal gymnastics. I have long regarded the song as a bitterly unfair test for merely excellent sopranos, and I have great sympathy for any soprano courageous enough to attempt it in a live recital. It’s nearly impossible to bring off. I have purchased around 10 recordings of the song, all by famous sopranos, and all except one — Elly Ameling’s triumph on this CD — have notable shortcomings in one or another of the three phases of the song. When I listen in awe to Ameling’s glorious version, I sometimes imagine that Schubert, who died at far too young an age, has been granted a “second visit” to earth, and that he appears in the modern age, just there, on the sidewalk in front of my house. I run out and accost him on the street. “Mr. Schubert, there is something you must come to hear IMMEDIATELY. A soprano named Elly Ameling finally mastered every note and nuance of that (almost) impossible song!”


Elly Ameling, soprano; Jörg Demus, piano; Hans Deinzer, clarinet

8:52 video


Der Hirt auf dem Felsen
, D 965
(The Shepherd on the Rock, D 965)

(The first four and the final verses are from Wilhelm Müller, verses five and six are by Karl August Varnhagen von Ense)

Wilhelm Müller – Der Berghirt

Wenn auf dem höchsten Fels ich steh,
ins tiefe Thal herneider seh,
und singe, und singe,
fern aus dem tiefen, dunkeln Thal
schwingt sich empor der Wiederhall,
der Wiederhall der Klüfte.

Je weiter meine Stimme dringt,
Je heller sie mir wiederklingt,
von unten, von unten.
Mein Liebchen wohnt so weit von mir,
drum sehn ich mich so heiß nach ihr
hinüber, hinüber.

(The Mountain Shepherd

When on the highest peak I stand
And look down into the valley below
And sing and sing,
Then from the distant vale’s dark depths
The echo soars up towards me,
The echo of the chasm.

The farther my voice carries,
The brighter it echoes back
From below, from far below.
My sweetheart lives so far away,
That’s why I long to be with her,
Over there, over there!

Varnhagen – Nächtlicher Schall

In tiefem Gram verzehr’ ich mich,
mir ist die Freude hin,
auf Erden mir die Hoffnung wich,
ich hier so einsam bin,
ich hier so einsam bin.

So sehnend klang im Wald das Lied,
so sehnend klang es durch die Nacht,
die Herzen es zum Himmel zieht
mit wunderbarer Macht.

(Nocturnal Sounds

By deepest grief I am consumed,
I am robbed of every joy.
Hope has left me here on earth,
Left me full of loneliness.

The sound of longing heard in the wood song,
The sound of longing through the night,
Lift hearts up to heaven
With miraculous power.

Wilhelm Müller – Liebesgedanken

Der Frühling will kommen,
der Frühling meine Freud,
nun mach ich mich fertig zum Wandern bereit.

Je weiter meine Stimme dringt,
je heller sie mir widerklingt

(Love Thoughts
But now Spring is on its way,
Spring, that gladdens my heart,
And I make myself ready
To go out walking.

The farther my voice carries,
The brighter it echoes back.

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