Op 4 No 4, for all its gentle, pastoral atmosphere, is a melancholy utterance, typical of Heine’s irony. A shepherdess, sitting beside the stream amid the May blossom, weaves her garlands of flowers, for whom we are not told. This tranquillity is disturbed by the entry of a gallant knight (marked by an unexpected tonal shift from A flat to G) who gallops by, startling her. As he disappears into the distance she begins to weep (conveyed by A flat minor) and throws her posy into the river. The nightingale, that ubiquitous romantic symbol of grief and lament, sings of her unrequited love.
from notes by Jeremy Dibble © 2000