The song Der Gondelfahrer
, D808, was probably not known to Liszt (it was not published until 1872), but the version for men’s chorus and piano, Op 28/D809, likewise written in March 1824, was the basis for the last and one of the sweetest of Liszt’s Schubert transcriptions. Mayrhofer’s poem tells of a gondolier pondering the human condition whilst plying his craft through water upon which the ghostly moon and stars dance, and the clock in St Mark’s strikes midnight. Neither Schubert in his miniature masterpiece, nor Liszt in a response typical of the lonely restraint of his late manner, gives us twelve strokes, and Liszt’s mysterious coda allows the clock to strike again and again, disappearing without the comforting keynote at the root of the final chords.
from notes by Leslie Howard © 1995