The vocal line which is mostly independent of the accompaniment (a subtle way of showing perhaps that the hermit is not dependent on the brook) is constructed in Schubert's best folksong manner. In fact it rather resembles the tune of another piece of water music, the celebrated Die Forelle, which is also built around the rise and fall of a simple triadic figure in the tonic before it shifts to the dominant. It is the type of tune that we all imagine would be very easy to compose, so obviously does it seem to lie within the compass of an improvising hand, waiting to be discovered by anybody. Unless you are a Schubert it is a long wait. It is notable that the tune of the well-loved Der Jüngling an der Quelle is also built around the major triad in deliberately naive fashion, as is the vocal line of Wohin? from Die schöne Müllerin. What all these songs have in common of course is water, and the use of the major triad with its clear even spaces between the notes is an analogue for tranparency; we can see through water just as we can see through the spaces between the notes of the common chord. There is also a setting of these words for man's chorus (TTBB, D337) which is in G minor and has a different character from either of the solo versions.
from notes by Graham Johnson © 1993
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