"The dullest of Schubert's brook songs" is how Capell sums up this lovely little pastorale. It is of course true that it is a forerunner of the celebrated Wohin?
from Die schöne Müllerin
where the water music's modulations and the charm and perception of the miller lad make it all too easy for Daphne, in comparison, to be weighed in the balance and found lightweight. It would be fairer to do this to Zumsteeg's setting of the same poem, which is a measure of how far Schubert had improved on the his erstwhile model. Zumsteeg's accompaniment hugs the vocal line without so much as a suggestion of water music, and each verse ends with a pianistic flourish that has nothing to do with Daphne's character. Surely character is what the commentators have missed; they unjustly compare music written for a questing, restless miller boy, his whole future in front of him, with music written as a plaint for the most abject of girls, contemplating her past. It is not a brook song as such at all (the brook is background here) but a delicate and feminine evocation of solitude, a shepherdess fading away in her grief, brave enough not to sing a note in the minor key. In the miller's song Wohin?
we detect, with various modulations, the singer moving, walking beside the brook and glancing in different directions; on the other hand there is no doubt that Daphne is sitting still. Here is but one more example of Schubert as régisseur
, exercising his operatically trained imagination.
from notes by Graham Johnson © 1990