This, the last Strauss song to be published posthumously, was also his very last composition. He wrote it in November 1948, two months after completing the Vier letzte Lieder
. In March 1949 he sent the manuscript as a personal gift to the soprano Maria Jeritza. A famous interpreter of many Strauss roles, she guarded it closely in her possession until her death, after which it was sold, enabling its first performance to take place on 10 January 1985, sung by Dame Kiri Te Kanawa accompanied by Martin Katz. With its wide-ranging vocal line, flexible phrasing and organically developing motifs, Malven
clearly has much in common with the Vier letzte Lieder
, especially Beim Schlafengehen
, even including an extended piano interlude similar to the violin solo that precedes the final stanza in the latter song. But its harmonic colouring is all its own, coolly juxtaposing flat-side major harmonies (E flat, D flat) with ‘whiter’ minor tonalities (E minor, A minor). Strauss’s tonal palette was clearly undimmed, and it is perhaps to be regretted that Mme Jeritza did not (as requested) make a copy for Strauss from which he would almost certainly have orchestrated the song. For pianists, on the other hand, it provides a delicate but satisfying coda to Strauss’s lifetime of Lieder.
from notes by Roger Vignoles © 2012