This poem was set by Goethe's mistress, the actress Corona Schröter, and his close friend Carl Friedrich Zelter. Challier's Lieder Catalogue
of 1885 lists seven others, apart from the American Edward MacDowell, all utterly obscure; the book could not include the Richard Strauss setting (by far the most famous) of 1897. The fact is that nothing can approach the Schubert setting for fragrance and shy delight; Strauss's effulgent song is a vocal splendour perhaps, but in its desire to charm in anachronistic manner, borders on the kitsch. Schubert's arioso, seemingly poised between speech and song, and certainly experimental in this respect, veers in the direction of prophetic modernity: out of context one might guess the composer of the chromatically underpinned line 'mein Leben hing mit diesem Blick an ihrem Leben' as Schumann rather than Schubert, and the song shares with that composer a feeling of improvisation on the spur of the moment, where the poem rules all, rather than a preconceived melody. The rapturous elongation of the final line of the second and fourth verse calculatedly sacrifices prosody for atmosphere, challenging the performers to achieve the feeling of ebb and flow so essential in this style.
from notes by Graham Johnson © 1989