Saturday, September 11, 2010

Schubert - Die schone Mullerin - Bostridge, Uchida

Ian Bostridge has long been associated with Schubert's songs and admired for his highly personal approach to them. This is his second recording of Die schöne Müllerin. He preserves the songs' original keys and his light, bright tenor is perfect for the young miller-journeyman who finds work but loses his heart. Wilhelm Müller wrote his poems for a popular domestic pastime, charades. His heading, "To be read in Winter," indicates their light-hearted 1875 oil painting by Wilhelm August Rieder, after his own 1825 watercolor portrait nature. Schubert's music, however, gives this literary fluff emotional weight and intensity, taking the hero on an inward journey from naïve, carefree optimism through ecstasy and jealousy to suicidal despair. Composed in 1823, the year Schubert's syphilis was diagnosed, the Müllerin's downward spiral suggests a personal parallel to some commentators. In his program notes, Bostridge rejects this but explores other psychological connections and ambiguities in both the words and the music. This may account for a certain lack of spontaneity and simplicity in his singing: his exaggerated contrasts of dynamics, articulation, nuance and inflection, as well as his habit of delaying and swelling his vibrato, sound mannered and artificial. However, when he lets his voice flow out freely, it is glorious, radiant with transparent light. Mitsuko Uchida, herself a renowned Schubert interpreter, evokes an outer and inner landscape of bright and muted colors, murmuring brooks, turning mill-wheels, hopes, joys, sorrows, tears and death. --Edith Eisler



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