This is an unpretentious little setting with hymn-like qualities. It is humble in most respects and does not have an acknowledged poetic parent, but it has unquestionably an exalted provenance. With the name of Abendlied
we think immediately (as Schubert did too) of that most famous of evening hymns Mozart's Abendempfindung
. Everything about this piece shows that Schubert was paying homage to his illustrious forbear and to one of the first great piano-accompanied songs ever written. The key is of course F major (as with Mozart) and the accompaniment rolls and glides in similar fashion; in the fourth bar after the word 'Flur' one finds the succession of sixths that lie under the hand so wonderfully in the Mozart song. Unfortunately Schubert has not succeeded in writing a song of similar distinction for despite its melodious and charming qualities and the seamless fluency of the accompaniment it remains earthbound and not terribly memorable. Both the other songs of the same title, the Stolberg Abendlied
and the setting of the famous Claudius Abendlied
are rather more distinguished. But as always with Schubert we can only afford to be critical of orphan songs of this kind because the sublime is the enemy of the good. A good song of its type it undoubtedly is, and many lesser composers in Schubert's time made their reputations with less.
from notes by Graham Johnson © 1995