The perennial difficulty about all but the greatest strophic songs is that the music is more appropriate to some verses than to others. When Schubert returns to certain elusive texts it suggests an artistic conscience haunted by this very problem. The first Fischerlied
of 1816 is very different from that of a year later. Schubert now eschews merry tra-la-las in favour of a setting in the key of F major, a tonality he often associates with pastoral music and with sleep. If the mood of the first Fischerlied
takes its cue from the very first line of the poem, this setting grows from the last lines of the second and eighth verses. The tra-la-las of D351 are a particularly inappropriate sequel for descriptions of slumber and the watery grave. In the first setting we hear splashing and wading, but here deeper currents are at work. The alto line of the accompaniment sways gently like the movement of fish in the depths. If the first setting depicts with humour and sympathy a merry worker, the second reveals what lies beneath the surface in him and for him. In fact a decision as to which setting is best is impossible: the poem needs both in order to encompass its range. We perform the first verse in both versions but choose verses 2, 3 and 8 as more appropriate to the music of D562.
from notes by Graham Johnson © 1988