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The melodic line is very reminiscent of that of the Hölty setting Winterlied17 from 1816, a melodic idea summoned up by Schubert less because of the weather conditions at the funeral than by the coldness of death and the grave where nothing grows - 'Keine Blumen blühn'. The solemnity and pain of the famous last setting of Mignon's Nur wer die Sehnsucht kennt also comes to mind. Underneath 'bleich und stumm' we have the same two quavers followed by a rest to describe paleness and silence as were used in Erlafsee to illustrate the still depths of the lake. Father and son stand at the graveside united in their grief by parallel sixths. A note of resentment against fate is heard at the recitative-like outburst of 'Schnell, schnell mit ihr verschwand'. The transformation into B major just before the angel's call is a typically Schubertian touch perhaps, but even by his own exalted standards, the little consolatory postlude, so simple yet so expressive, is ravishingly beautiful.
from notes by Graham Johnson © 1994
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