The summer of 1838 was a happy one for Fanny: Felix, Cécile and their baby were visiting Berlin for the first time since their marriage. It is incredible to think that this wonderful but neglected song was written two years before Schumann’s more famous setting in his Op 24 Liederkreis
. Whereas Schumann sets his song in a rather slow tempo in 4/4 metre, Fanny’s is in 3/4 and has more of a spring in the step. The opening chromatic meanderings of the piano portray the carefree walk under the trees, and octave leaps and trills in the vocal line characterize the airy freedom of the birds. A curious recitative-like passage twice interrupts this mood just as the poet is startled by the old dreams stirring in his heart. The second time, memories of past pain cause the poet to scold the birds for hurting him so. Fanny freely repeats Heine’s words again in the coda with an elegant melisma adding a hint of irony to the final vocal phrase, and the song ends poignantly with the relaxed meanderings of the opening.
from notes by Eugene Asti and Susan Gritton © 2000