This song is the twelfth of Schubert's long line of Goethe settings which began with Gretchen am Spinnrade
in 1814 and continued with unabated enthusiasm in 1815. Nahe des Geliebten
shows that the eighteen-year-old composer was brilliantly capable of choosing when to abandon his through-composed style, so perfect for Gretchen
, and return to a strophic treatment of the text. The poem is a litany, and if the music were to vary from verse to verse, Goethe's depiction of a lover's constancy would have been undermined. The piano introduction (played only once) is a miracle: with each change of chord we perceive the opening of a loving heart, the unfolding realisation of deep devotion. The singer enters, the home key is reached, a promise is kept, and the power of imagination has surmounted the agony of separation.
from notes by Graham Johnson © 1988