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It is this whiff of the eighteenth century and an avoidance of the modulation and harmonic experiment dear to Schubert which suggests the robust song style of Beethoven. The introduction to this song has something of the keyboard sonata about it – two descending figures, each of them moving with a tiny flourish from the home key of G major to the dominant seventh. From this type of seemingly innocuous figuration Beethoven would build castles in the air; Schubert's mind was almost certainly on his greatest living contemporary, for John Reed detects Beethoven's influence on the Schubert piano sonatas written in 1817. This type of prelude brings to mind other Schubert songs, particularly the Baumberg settings (Der Morgenkuss and Abendständchen - An Lina for example). The last two lines of each strophe seem awkwardly set until one realises that Schubert has created, with some ingenuity, a hemiola: the last eight bars of the piece (in 3/4) might easily be re-barred as twelve bars in 2/4, or four in 3/2. This gives a jaunty, even slightly quirky, edge to the word-setting – an angularity which again brings Beethoven to mind.
We do not know where Schubert found the poem of Die Liebe. It could have been published in a periodical, but it is not impossible that the composer had some personal contact with the poet through Mayrhofer and his circle.
from notes by Graham Johnson © 1994
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