Kling leise, mein Lied
was composed on 30 March 1848 to words by a prolific Austrian journalist and writer Johannes Nordmann, whose Gedichte
of 1846 had garnered the censors’ disapproval for political reasons. One of Liszt’s favourite singers in Weimar, the tenor Franz Götze, particularly pleased the composer with his performances of this somewhat paradoxical lover’s serenade (the persona declares that he does not wish to awaken the beloved from her dream). For the simplified second version, Liszt eliminated the most erotic verse about the sweetheart’s nightgown clinging to her limbs and breasts. In the idiosyncratic formal structure, tailored to the composer’s reading of the poem, the refrain to the title words is set to a beautifully tender cantilena, while an interior section in a different metre and tempo (a song-within-a-song) touches upon one key after another in Liszt’s typically adventurous manner, however gentle the atmosphere.
from notes by Susan Youens © 2010