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Halt! from Die Schone Mullerin by Schubert

Halt! is a tiny song lasting only one and a half minutes within the cycle, yet its' importance within the cycle should not be underestimated. It is the third song in the set of twenty. The miller has reached a point in his journey at which he can see a mill wheel and, as he approaches nearer, a friendly looking house with gleaming windows. This house turns out to be the point at which he ends his wanderings and decides to stay a while, for the refrain "Ei Bachlein, liebes Bachlein, War es also gemeint?" ("Now brook, dear brook, Was this what you meant?")is repeated in the first two lines of the next song.

Once again the piano accompaniment plays a role in characterising the players within the music; the mill wheel can be heard in the opening arpeggio and also in the pounding rhythm of the following music, while the music of the brook also continues from Wohin? in the rippling arpeggios of the right hand.

Halt, unlike some of the other songs in Die Schöne Müllerin, is rarely heard sung apart from the cycle as it is so much a part of the story line. However its music is full of sunshine and light and rippling water, and it is well worth listening through the song several times, especially if you have access to different recordings. This three verse Leid is deceptively simple in its appearance and yet it is remarkable how it can sound quite different in different interpretations.

I'd recommend listening to at least two different singers if possible; I love Fritz Wunderlich's delightfully smooth singing with its crystal clear diction, or you could always try the collection with Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and Gerald Moore. This latter superb recording also includes the song cycles Winterreise and Schwanengesang so is excellent value for money. Both disks are in the author's collection, purchased with her own money.

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