Schubert: Die Schone Müllerin

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COMPOSERS: Schubert
LABELS: Onyx
ALBUM TITLE: Schubert: Die schone Müllerin
WORKS: Die schone Müllerin
PERFORMER: Florian Boesch (baritone); Malcolm Martineau (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 4112

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So you thought Die schöne Müllerin ended with the suicide of the lovelorn miller’s apprentice, did you? Well, think again. That’s what Florian Boesch urges his listeners to do in this revisionist reading of Schubert’s song cycle. As he explains in his liner note, Boesch has been won over to the view that the brook’s final lullaby is no dirge, but presages a time of healing and new adventure. The young lad is simply being consoled after a journey of adolescent fantasy, denial, psychosis, and final self-discovery.

So how does this shape Boesch’s interpretation as he goes along? Well, always a rigorous thinker, taking nothing as read, and with Malcolm Martineau energetically complicit, Boesch presents a robust young wanderer, his voice relaxed and comfortably focused enough
to leave the minutiae of emphasis and expressive nuance to Martineau’s fingers.

Boesch plays off Schubert’s vocal line against the piano accompaniment with unusual flexibility. Fleeting moments of hesitation, and flickers of irregular pulse convey both diffidence and impulsiveness within the volatile fantasy world of the young wanderer’s infatuated imagination. There is a thrillingly choppy impatience about this ‘Ungeduld’, a new revelation of the obsessive rhyming within ‘Mein!’, and a telling ambivalence in the last half dozen songs.

Altogether, this is one of the most challenging and provocative new recordings of this cycle – and one of the best performed and recorded.

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Hilary Finch