There is nothing particularly noteworthy about this strophic song—apart from the fact that only Schubert could have written it. Not even the most skilful of musical pasticheurs could have managed to simulate its Schubertian melody and modulations—the hardest things in the world to counterfeit. It is a silver sliver of a song, a moonlit page in a ternary form so simple that in other hands it would be banal. As a tune by Schubert, however, it is perfect in its own unpretentious way. The running semiquavers seem at first hearing to suggest water music, but here it is moonshine that is on tap with the odd chromatic passing note to paint the glint of a thousand stars. The song makes rather more of a robust impression than is usual for songs of the moon (compare it to the languid Hölty An den Mond
), a characteristic which stems from the energy of the left hand ostinato (a dotted crotchet and three pulsating quavers) which was later to be employed in such masterpieces as Der Zwerg
and the first Suleika
song. This is a night song which is less about the customary nocturnal splendours normally apostrophised in pieces of this sort (usually resulting in an expansive or relaxed mood) than the longing and exaltation of the poet in love. We are aware of an undertow of passionate impatience; he can scarcely wait to get his hands on his Silli.
from notes by Graham Johnson © 1992