Schubert: Die schöne Müllerin

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2.0 out of 5 star rating 2.0

COMPOSERS: Schubert
LABELS: Dorian
WORKS: Die schöne Müllerin
PERFORMER: Kevin McMillan (baritone), Warren Jones (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: DOR-90162 DDD
Whom to pity more, the poor lovelorn miller’s apprentice, or poor, anxious Kevin McMillan? Both in his written preface and in his singing, McMillan seems worried overmuch about being a baritone in a cycle designed for the tenor voice. There has, after , been a precedent or two… The way in, it seemed to McMillan, was to adopt a ‘tenor’s vocal attitude’. Now I am not quite sure what that is, but it doesn’t seem to do him much good.

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McMillan is a careful, affectionate performer, but a certain vocal tension reveals a self-consciousness which seems to dampen any real engagement in the inner energy of Schubert’s music. Rhythmically, too much is generalised. McMillan has a tendency to accent the first and third measure of a bar regardless of the verbal sense or longer musical line. And imprecise dotted rhythms take the edge off the poet’s Impatience, Jealousy and Pride.

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McMillan’s baritone does not feed the line enough to justify his slow speeds, particularly in his moments of close cross-questioning of the frustratingly dumb Brook. Warren Jones’s piano accompaniment prefers to be expressive through touches of mannered rubato rather than through varying tone or weight. With a new Müllerin appearing almost monthly at the moment, and with outstanding performances like that of Christoph Prégardien still echoing in the memory, this simply doesn’t get by. Hilary Finch