Schubert's mastery of the male partsong is here given pianistic expression; the gruff basses at the beginning are echoed by tenors a twelfth higher and at the end of the first two verses there is something liked a whistled obbligato as the left hand crosses to the treble. This is the only moment when the accompaniment dares to enter the dangerous domain of the soprano register. The advantage of having the percussive and wordless piano stand in for this chorus is that the left hand tunes, when combined with the energetic motor rhythms of the right, create an irresistible illusion of splashing waves and glinting sunlight. In lesser hands than Schubert's this song (to a rather mediocre text by his friend Baron Schlechta) would have had a coarse ring to it - the splashing of water can as easily follow a game of rugby as describe a day of fishing. Despite the energy and heartiness of the music Schubert never descends to the vulgar or brutal: the reference to the 'schlaue Wicht' is rendered charming by a clever displacement of the rhythm which suggests insouciance rather than chauvinism or misogyny. Apart from this adjustment in the last verse the song is strophic. Schubert has no compunction in leaving out one of Schlechta's seven stanzas to make a neat structure of two verses of poetry for each one of music.
from notes by Graham Johnson © 1988
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|Stephen Varcoe (baritone), Graham Johnson (piano)|
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