About this work
Schubert's songs just don't get much better than Der entsuhnte Orest (The Purification of Orestes, D. 699). Conceived as a companion piece for Orest auf Tauris (1817) which took the Greek hero into exile, Der entsuhnte Orest (1820) returns the hero to Greece on waves of love. Indeed, Johann Mayrhofer's verse describes the moment when Orestes steps ashore again in Greece, his boat having been born "lightly along on waves of love."
This feeling of rapturous love is tangible in every bar of the song. The piano opens the song with a gently rocking sextuplet figure carrying resonanaces of all of Schubert's water music. The vocal melody of the first of Mayrhofer's four verses has a majestic serenity that wraps it like kingly robes. The piano's sextuplets give way in the second and third verse to throbbing triplet chords outlining a harmonic motion that seems to slowly rise upwards beneath a vocal melody of gratitude and gravitas. The piano's accompaniment ceases its restless movement for the fourth and final verse as the vocal melody speaks of calm acceptance and profound blessedness. The piano's final beatific chords are both a balm and a benediction for Orestes, returned to take his throne.