The manuscript of this song has disappeared, but Schubert's brother Ferdinand made a copy of it; we owe to Hoorickx its publication in 1970 in the Revue Belge de Musicologie. The composer's original vocal line peters out only in the penultimate bar of the melody and so only three (rather uncontroversial) notes are supplied for the singer. The original piano part stops three bars earlier, after the word 'wenn' in the phrase 'wenn ich am Bach'. Hoorickx has provided a prelude and five bars of accompaniment; the performers here have opted for one change of harmony from his version. Most of the song is, however, the purest Schubert. The key is F sharp minor (the gently elegiac slow movement of Mozart's A major Concerto, K488, comes to mind) and the beautiful melody is underpinned by the composer's favourite dactylic rhythm. F sharp is a tonality that Schubert often associates with death and the gentle or ghostly shadows and echoes of remembrance (cf Schwestergruss or Totengräberweise). The second version of this song (D399. 1816) is entirely different and arguably less distinguished.
from notes by Graham Johnson © 1990
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