Adorno's "Schubert" textually reenacts what he recognizes in Schubert's music, repeating himself but with subtle differences, as though he were holding up a cut gem to light and turning it to see the differences manifested in its facets. Adorno's ideas about this music are less developed than juxtaposed, often paratactically, so as to constitute what Benjamin termed a constellation. What Adorno hears in Schubert is a kind of reciprocity toward otherness. Schubert's "landscape," for Adorno, is grounded in the realm of the cultural imaginary; it represents for him a declaration of love, defined by the difference between subject and object that engenders embrace, rather than domination. The aesthetic truth of Schubert's music doesn't emerge through development, except, ironically perhaps, in the "successful" failure of his developments. Instead, it's articulated in a virtual instant, as in the shape and turn of a melody (and distinctly not in its working out).
The Schubert melody is like the imagined perfection of landscape--as though, like "nature," it were always already complete. The C-minor Andante of the Piano Trio in Eb (op. 100, D. 929) is a case in point. The opening melodic statement in the cello and the folklike second theme in the violin, for the most part, can only be repeated, not improved upon, though Schubert tries--the melodic perfection of the opening statements, the first theme especially, becomes unambiguously evident only when the movement ends. We need everything that follows the initial statements to realize what we first heard: a melody (more than a theme) complete in itself, perfect, and on that account acoustically utopian--a semblance of happiness embedded in the sad honesty of C-minorÕs pensive melancholy.
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