Rausche leise, grünes Dach
is one of Mendelssohn’s two settings of poetry by Albert Graf von Schlippenbach (1800–1886), whose ‘Nun leb’ wohl, du kleine Gasse’ was set to music by Friedrich Silcher and appeared in many Commersbücher
(anthologies of German folk songs, drinking songs, patriotic songs, and popular songs) throughout the century. This exquisite song was probably composed in late 1824 and has much in common with the other Schlippenbach–Mendelssohn Lied, Die Sterne schau’n in stiller Nacht
, published posthumously as Op 99 No 2. Both personae sing of death: the ‘green roof’ is on a grave, while a young girl fearing that her mother will die is reassured by her guardian angel in Die Sterne schau’n
. Rausche leise
is a poignant, wistful thing, its harmonies shading from minor to major and each strophe ending in tonal mid-air. Death in the early nineteenth century is often depicted as a lovely boy, an amanuensis into a comforting realm; we are left at the end of this song poised between a still-living persona and the unthreatening Death-figure who has just appeared.
from notes by Susan Youens © 2009