Schubert's setting of Pietro Metastasio's "Son fra l'onde" (Now I am among the waves) (D. 78) from September 18, 1813, is one of the most accomplished and effective of all his compositional exercises for Antonio Salieri. Started at the same time as Schubert's setting of Schiller's "Der Taucher," Son fra l'onde partakes of the same stormy power as the German song. Indeed, Schubert's use of C minor to depict Venus as she is tossed by the waves of fate recalls Beethoven's use of C minor in his Symphony No. 5. In Son fra l'onde, Schubert's command of the long soprano melody is complete: the tessitura is just right for a dramatic voice and the length of the lines is ideal for breath control. Even more impressive is Schubert's piano accompaniment: while many of his previous accompaniments had been awkwardly conceived or overly simplistic, the rushing cascades in the piano are perfectly suited both for depicting the situation of the song and for playing at the keyboard. Although only a composition exercise, Son fra l'onde is surely one of Schubert's finest composition excercises.
Description by James Leonard