Two of the set, Im Feld ein Mädchen singt
(‘In the field a maiden sings’) and Die stille Stadt
(‘The silent town’) are among his greatest songs. The first of the Dehmel settings, a poet also favoured by Mahler, Aus banger Brust
(‘From anxious heart’) is an impassioned one, and Sibelius subsequently scored it, but the real masterpiece here is its companion, Die stille Stadt
. This has the concentration and atmosphere of a tone-poem: indeed, its serenity, beauty of line and sense of repose mark it out from the others. It is a grievously neglected song and has great distinction and refinement of feeling. Its subtle shifts of harmonic emphasis resonate in the memory.
from notes by Robert Layton © 2002