Schubert – Die schöne Müllerin

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COMPOSERS: Schubert
LABELS: Medici Arts
WORKS: Die schöne Müllerin
PERFORMER: Christoph Prégardien (tenor), Michael Gees (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 2057308 (NTSC system; dts 5.1; 16:9 picture format)

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Those familiar with Christoph Prégardien’s most recent disc of Die schöne Müllerin, with its unique and controversial embellishments, will know something of what to expect from this live performance at last August’s Stuttgart Festival.

Prégardien’s baritone-like tenor has the customary spring in its step and, in repeated lines of these stophic songs, subtle ornamentation captures the movement of water and mill-wheel, or a sigh or shudder of emotion.

But watching rather than merely listening also reveals the human gestural minutiae within the nerve system of a performance which is so sensitively tailored by both Prégardien and his pianist, Michael Gees, to every second of Schubert’s score. In their quasi-improvisatory nature, the embellishments come over as a sharing of confidences with the rapt audience.

Throughout the recital, the variety of gently paced and mixed camera shots is never distracting, and the performance is lit to perfection. There are three encores, giving a glimpse into Prégardien’s no less revelatory approach to Schubert’s Schwanengesang.

In the excellent 25-minute bonus interview here Prégardien is both relaxed and succinct as he reveals something of the psychology within the narrative and his own performance.

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It also includes a brief examination of Schubert’s sexuality and the emotional Zeitgeist of his time and a justification of ornamentation as part of Prégardien’s own ever-evolving performance practice. Hilary Finch