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The opening, extremely simple in its appearance on the page, offers a masterful counterpart to the meaning of the words. At the question “Rosa, do you think of me?” the accompaniment, a solitary line in the pianist's right hand, doubles the voice. This is followed by “I think tenderly of you”; underneath this the left hand joins the conversation in quasi-canon as if summoned by the poet's strength of imagination to take part, the masculine bass cleaving to the feminine treble. This unanimity of thought, a vivid musical depiction of the communing of lovers, puts us in mind of the canonic writing in the introduction to the Brahms song Wir wandelten. As the drift of the poem opens outward from the two lovers to the panorama of nature and from thence to thoughts of eternity, the accompaniment fills out and changes from two-part to four-part – and even six-part – harmony. The whole is conceived in a single sweep without any pauses in the music – quite an achievement when dealing with this type of metre. We climb high with the voice to reach the tops of the pines, and then descend again in a long arc. The cadence at the first 'Säuseln des Ewigen' which takes us from the second inversion of the tonic chord to the relative minor is wonderfully appropriate for the mysterious whisperings of eternity, as is the descent of the voice into the depths of its range for the repeat of those words. The postlude takes this deeper tessitura as its starting point with a pair of gentle murmurs – not quite shudders, but the stirring of something deep. It would not be too much to say that Schubert's setting enables us to see in this lyric somthing universal, in any case much more than a love song related to two people. These concluding bars might well serve to illustrate the frisson felt by Kosegarten and his Rosa as, moved by the beauties of their surroundings, they feel that their love is part of the vast plan of the universe.
from notes by Graham Johnson © 1994
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