This was the first song by Schubert to be performed in a public concert. It was a big success and we can see why: just like the celebrated Frühlingstraum
it is a textbook siciliana, for apart from the lilting rhythm the scene is both pastoral and melancholy, and such a form would have been familiar to any early nineteenth-century audience. The quality of the new wine which is poured into old bottles should not go unnoticed however. The same is true of Goethe's poem which is based on a simple folk song but employs at the same time the art which conceals art. The musical form is a palindromic ABCBA - the outer sections constitute the plaint, the B sections in the relative major are slightly more vivacious and the big central section (the middle two verses) includes a sudden storm. The whole effect is of a rise and fall of the emotions, a great arc of feeling spanning the horizon, for this is a song of the outdoors. It is a masterpiece masquerading as a work song and posing as a simple pastorale. How much of this mask the singer chooses to wear is another matter. Capell called this song 'a priceless little object of virtù' as well it may seem when interpreted by a light little voice. In this performance the song is no dainty bergerette but a cry from the heart; Schubert's shepherd is no Dresden figurine and the intensity of feeling is comparable with that of Gretchen who had sprung into song life only six weeks earlier.
from notes by Graham Johnson © 1988