Schubert: Die schöne Müllerin

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Schubert
LABELS: CBC
ALBUM TITLE: Schubert Leider
WORKS: Die schöne Müllerin
CATALOGUE NO: MVCD 1170
The Canadian tenor sees Die schöne Müllerin as one of the four cornerstones of the lyric tenor’s repertoire, and states that he is determined to be ‘completely dedicated to the letter and the spirit of the text’. This, his first recorded performance of the cycle, is brimming with good intentions. In fact, listening to it is rather like having a heavily marked score slammed in one’s face.

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This finest of Mozartian tenors has the vocal palette for the job, from ringing heroics to the most beautiful quiet singing. But, not unlike Ian Bostridge, our most recent Miller’s lad (see April 2005), Schade applies feverish, histrionic overkill to every word, every phrase.Throughout the cycle, many moments of disarming intimacy are more moving the more simply they are approached. But Schade is barely capable of singing one line without multiple shifting emphases and tones of voice. This performance is matched by a close, bright recording which at times threatens to make Malcolm Martineau’s playing sound uncharacteristically harsh.

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Peter Schreier and András Schiff (Decca, 1989) still offer a definitive performance which continues to stand the test of time. Among recent tenor recordings, Christoph Pregardien and Andreas Staier (WDR) are stimulating and insightful. But Werner Gura and Jan Schultsz retain the benchmark for a movingly potent intensity which is articulated within the music, rather than overwhelming it. Hilary Finch