There are a number of Schubert songs which exist only in fragments – sometimes because the composer never finished the settings, sometimes because manuscripts have been destroyed or lost. Although it has been our practice to offer our listeners these fragments completed by a twentieth-century hand (usually that of the admirable Reinhard Van Hoorickx), there are some scraps of Schubertiana which are so slight that they defy effective completion. The two fragments here are settings of a poem where Mignon, not long for this life, is dressed up like an angel; they have a fragility and a mystery just as they are which seems totally appropriate to her character. The complete poem has four stanzas of which only the first two are printed above.
The Deutsch catalogue treats these two fragments as part of the same song and accords them a shared Deutsch number while also conceding the possibility that the first fragment (in A flat) was part of a song which was never completed, and that the second (in G major according to the key signature, although the fragment begins in C flat major) was part of the second verse of a much more sophisticated setting which has been lost. Both fragments together last less than a minute, yet the composer has found a musical key to the enigma of Mignon, her appearance reflected in the translucence of the music.
from notes by Graham Johnson © 1995