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Morgengruss by Franz Schubert

Morgengruß is the eighth song in Schubert's song cycle Die Schöne Müllerin. We are at a particularly calm moment in the song cycle, almost half way through, and things are beginning to go well for the young miller. This is not a particularly exciting moment in the story, but a description of the maid of the mill (die schöne müllerin herself) of the story appearing in the morning and probably looking rather sleepy.

The Lied itself is in C major and is a pure strophic setting of four verses. Schubert has fairly often in this series varied one or more of the verses within each song, but in this case he does not and apart from a tiny refrain at the end of each verse the setting is straightforward and all four stanzas are set to the same music. Müller's poetry is straightforward, mixing his description of the miller maid's blue eyes with those of the blue flowers they resemble, so that on the whole both Schubert and Müller have opted for an uncomplicated moment of calm at this point in Die Schone Müllerin.

The music also eases us along gently, ambling comfortably through the verses neither too quickly nor too slowly. It is not a recitative but simply follows the lines of the verses, creating a lovely atmosphere in its deceptive simplicity. The singer can use his most beautiful tones here and should opt for careful control, never allowing speed to show until the last verse when a little energy can be added to show the change in subject matter.

Recommended listening for this lovely Lied would include Fritz Wunderlich and Peter Schrier, both of whom have produced excellent recordings of Die Schöne Müllerin and whose work is regarded as established in the field of Schubert recordings. I particularly love Fritz Wunderlich's recording and have lost count of how many times I have listened to it! I also like Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and Matthias Goerne but do listen to any others you find and decide for yourself whether or not you like them.


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