Und dann nicht mehr
is a poem of infinite regret for a passing moment that cannot be recaptured. Both this song and Vom künftigen Alter
were composed during the gestation period of Arabella
, premiered in 1933. In that opera the rich Croatian landowner Mandryka sings movingly of the death of his young wife, and it is not fanciful to hear pre-echoes of this music here, in the expansive lyricism of the vocal line and in the string-like figuration of the piano part. Rückert was fond of unifying his verses through the repetition of a short refrain—such as ‘wie schön’ in the equally expansive Anbetung
(recorded in Volume 3
) or ‘Um Mitternacht’ in the song of that title in Mahler’s Rückert-Lieder. Here it is the words ‘und dann nicht mehr’ that toll their regretful knell through the singer’s narration, with Strauss taking care to vary the musical colour of each repetition. Whether the listener feels the catchphrase outstays its welcome probably depends on his or her general readiness to allow an old man his reminiscences, but it is a fine song nonetheless.
from notes by Roger Vignoles © 2009