LABELS: Harmonia Mundi
WORKS: Die schöne Müllerin
PERFORMER: Matthias Goerne (baritone); Christophe Eschenbach (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: HMC 901995
Matthias Goerne’s ongoing Schubert edition for Harmonia Mundi is giving the baritone both the space and the security to spread his wings and this latest Die schöne Müllerin is a benchmark both in Goerne’s own career, and in the catalogue.
For each recording so far, Goerne has chosen a different pianist. This time, Eschenbach underwrites the authority and thoughtfulness of this recital from the start. He seems to sense the cycle’s end in its beginning and offers more than one pre-echo of Winterreise towards the end.
Many recent recordings have emphasised, thrillingly, the adolescent volatility of the miller’s apprentice. Goerne prefers to focus on the view from the lad’s wonder-filled, dreaming, but ultimately self-deluding eyes. Here is a highly introverted youth, intimately and fatally communing with nature. And here, too, Goerne is playing to the strengths of his own voice: its hushed, focused pianissimo, its matchless legato, and its vivid rhythmic articulation.
This ‘Ungeduld’ rings out with an impatience born of yearning, not of triumph. Indeed, every dying fall, every leaning note is turned to longing, with the hushed end of ‘Pause’ seeming to come from an existential questioning within Schubert’s own mind. After all, this relationship lives only in the mind – and herein lies its pathos, voiced so eloquently in the dark grief of the last three songs. Hilary Finch