This song was composed in May 1807 and appeared in the fourth book of Zelters sämmtliche Lieder, Balladen und Romanzen
(printed in Berlin, 1810–1813). Although this is no match for Schubert’s setting, the song is remarkably eloquent and touching, an exercise in the judiciously ardent style of performance that is represented by the composer’s marking—Mit Affekt, doch nicht zu langsam
. The curve of the melodic line has a Mozartian graciousness, and the ascending vocal sequences require the poised attentions of a very good singer, someone who might have sung Pamina for example. Fine breath control is necessary for the elongated phrase at ‘verlorne Glück’. The thematic interplay between the voice and piano, and between the pianist’s right and left hand, make for a convincing depiction of loss and regret, albeit in the manner of an aria rather than a lied. This is very far from the simple strophic setting advocated by the theoreticians of the Berlin school. And Zelter dares to change Goethe’s poem! He adds the adjectives ‘süsse, liebe’ to the closing line, and he does so without a word of apology to the poet.
comparative Schubert listening:
Erster Verlust D226. 5 July 1815
from notes by Graham Johnson © 2006