Graham Johnson, the pianist behind Hyperion Record’s monumental series of Schubert’s complete lieder, is known for having a lot to say about these songs. His liner notes to the original releases of the series are rich and full of insight. Unfortunately, the current box set doesn’t come with those notes, but just a book of the lyrics to the songs.
But Johnson has been hard at work for several years, writing the definitive work on Schubert’s lieder, and this book is ready for publication. Published by Yale University Press, Franz Schubert: The Complete Songs (Amazon.com, Amazon UK) is a 3-volume, 3,000 page set, and will be released soon. (It’s been delayed, and seems to be available on August 15.) At $300, or £200, it’s a big investment, but it will be worth the money. I saw one of the volumes during a visit to Hyperion Records in June, and the books are massive and well designed.
Here’s what the publisher has to say:
This three-volume boxed set is the definitive work on Franz Schubert’s vocal music with piano. A richly illustrated encyclopedia, these substantial volumes contain more than seven hundred song commentaries with parallel text and translations (by Richard Wigmore), detailed annotations on the songs’ poetic sources, and biographies of one hundred and twenty poets, as well as general articles on accompaniment, tonality, transcriptions, singers, and more. Compiled by Graham Johnson—celebrated accompanist, author, and the first pianist ever to record all of Schubert’s songs and part-songs—this sumptuous work is a must for performers, scholars, and all lovers of Schubert lieder.
If you’re a lover of Schubert’s lieder, you’ll want to get this, in spite of its somewhat high price; it’s more expensive than getting the CDs in the budget box set from Hyperion (Amazon.com, Amazon UK). But having read Johnson’s liner notes to the original CDs, I can only imagine how much more interesting this larger set of books will be. I’ll be spending a lot of time with these books.
Watch Graham Johnson discuss the book: