This entirely enchanting song is of a deceptive simplicity. The lover's restless quest is mirrored by a tonal scheme which reaches a tonic close only at the end of each verse. How masterful it is that even the first chord is on the first inversion of the tonic; this sows a seed of doubt which is only banished in the affirmative postlude. In this song the maxim is like a spell or a litany and the moving harmonic sequences which end each verse of Schubert's Litanei
are also used here. But a quotation from that great song honouring the dead has another significance. The tune for the words 'Alte Liebe rostet nie' is Mozart's favourite motto theme, which reaches its apotheosis in the finale of the 'Jupiter' Symphony. In a passage from his diary (earlier in 1816) Schubert had written 'The magic notes of Mozart's music still haunt me … Mozart, immortal Mozart, how endlessly many comforting perceptions of a better life have you brought to our souls.' Schubert's old love for Mozart was never to tarnish, much less die. After the failure of his love affair with Therese Grob it is perhaps Schubert's way of saying that only in music can he hope to find faithful companionship.
from notes by Graham Johnson © 1989