ALBUM TITLE: Schubert
WORKS: Die schöne Müllerin, D795
PERFORMER: Pavol Breslik (tenor), Amir Katz (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: C 737 151 A
Both these recordings of Schubert’s first song-cycle are overwhelmingly beautiful, with fine young tenors and excellent pianists. Pavol Breslik is a Czech singer who has appeared several times with distinction at Covent Garden, though I was more struck by the warmth and youthfulness of his tone on this recording than I have been in the theatre. He brings enormous freshness and vitality to the work, so that strophic songs which can strike one as monotonous are wholly captivating, and one concentrates on the meaning of each verse more than usual. It is, though, an extrovert’s reading of the cycle, and for all its charm it doesn’t seem to plumb its depths. But Breslik’s is a full-throated tenor, and in Amir Katz he has a reliable accompanist.
Go to the recording from the Wigmore Hall, however, with the Swiss tenor Mauro Peter and his immensely experienced partner Helmut Deutsch, and you are on a different level of interpretation. There is no undue fuss about the words, but the individuality of the songs is more striking, and moments such as the alarming one when the fair maid announces ‘It’s going to rain: I’m off home’ are realised with a sense of drama which Breslik seems somewhat casual about. And in the marvellous ‘Trockne Blumen’ Peter and Deutsch build to an overpowering climax, and then bring the cycle to an hypnotic close with the final song, rudely cut off by raucous applause. Michael Tanner