In actual fact it is the tempo ('Ziemlich geschwind' in alla breve time) which shows how differently the two composers understood the poem. The Brahms is all spacious introspection, the atmosphere of his song takes its mood from the 'schlummerndes Licht' of the poem's second line. On the other hand, however asleep the light, Schubert feels that his protagonist is far too unhappy and restless to melt into a soporific background of nature at rest. There is an urgent dactylic rhythm in the piano's left hand which propels his search for a mate forever onward—there is more than a touch of impatience in his quest. After two lines the music modulates into the relative major (a minuscule change of direction of the accompanying figure in the piano's right hand achieves this in a manner both simple and audacious), only to return to the minor key for the last three syllables of each strophe. It is most felicitous that at the opening of the third verse the cooing of doves is beautifully suggested in the piano's left hand by the dactylic figure where two staccato crotchets underpin theÿonomatopoeic rolled double r of the word 'girret'. Schubert was becoming such a sophisticated composer of strophic songs that it is possible that a detail in the third verse came to his attention first; perhaps this was his original inspiration for the accompaniment figure on that May day in 1815.
from notes by Graham Johnson © 1992
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