There is a distinct resonance here of other later (and better known) songs about death, and presentiment of release from earth's cares. The most famous of these is Der Tod und das Mädchen which was composed in the following month; Trost shares that great work's bitter-sweet majesty, all the more remarkable for being evoked within the space of a few bars in duple time. Schwanengesang also comes to mind – not the great cycle from 1828, but the 1822 Senn setting which achieves the same utterly Schubertian mix of elegiac departure and exaltation. In all three songs the dactylic death motif – a rhythm of a long note (whether crotchet or minim) followed by two of half its length – plays a part to a greater or lesser extent. In a song like Trost, with its ambivalence between the major key and its relative minor, Schubert is on territory of which he was a special master – the smile through the tears and the sense of profound consolation at the darkest times. The postlude with its gentle decoration on the penultimate crotchet is like the pouring of balm on a wound – the kindly embrace of death the deliverer perhaps.
from notes by Graham Johnson © 1994
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