About this work
This is a strange setting of a strange poem. The title character of Johann Mayrhofer's "Der Hirt" (The Shepherd) is no pastoral swain out tending his flocks on a timeless hillside, but rather a fellow contemplating his lost love while staring at a bell tower. And Schubert's song, though it seems to be in D minor in its piano prelude and though it starts each of its four verses in D minor, actually seems to be in the relative major of F with its quick modulates to F major in the verses and the piano postlude after the final verse ends in F major. Is the poem of "Der Hirt" another in a long line of conventionally cute re-imaginings of a bucolic past? Is the composition of Der Hirt a subjective lament or an objective portrayal of another's lament? With its stylized vocal melody veering between yearning and disappointment and its piano accompaniment that pulls back when its not pushing forward, it is impossible to say. One of the oddest and least compelling of all Schubert's Mayrhofer settings.