Schubert: Notturno D897


I FIRST heard this decades ago as the signature tune to a BBC serial reading of Henry James’s The Aspern Papers, and I was captivated. I don’t know why it is not heard as often as other Schubert jewels such as the Trout Quintet D667.

Franz Schubert (1797-1828) completed the work, sometimes called Adagio, in the autumn of 1827, a year before his tragically early death at the age of 31. His health was already failing when he wrote it and he had confided to friends that he thought he was near the end. It is my fancy that you can hear his sadness, anger and maybe acceptance in this lovely piece.

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