Subscribe to
Opera Today

Receive articles and news via RSS feeds or email subscription.


facebook-icon.png


twitter_logo[1].gif



9780393088953.png

9780521746472.png

0810888688.gif

0810882728.gif

Recently in Recordings

Camille Saint-Saens: Mélodies avec orchestra

Saint-Saëns Mélodies avec orchestra with Yann Beuron and Tassis Christoyannis with the Orchestra della Svizzera Italiana conducted by Markus Poschner.

Les Funérailles Royales de Louis XIV recreated at Versailles

Les Funérailles Royales de Louis XIV, with Ensemble Pygmalion, conducted by Raphaël Pichon now on DVD/Blu -ray from Harmonia Mundi. This captures the historic performance at the Chapelle Royale de Versailles in November 2015, on the 300th anniversary of the King's death.

Tenebræ Responsories
recording by Stile Antico

Tomas Luis de Victoria’s Tenebrae Responsories are designed to occupy the final three days of Holy Week, and contemplate the themes of loss, betrayal and death that dominate the Easter week. As such, the Responsories demand a sense of darkness, reflection and depth that this new recording by Stile Antico - at least partially - captures.

Mahler Symphony no 9, Daniel Harding SRSO

Mahler Symphony no 9 in D major, with Daniel Harding conducting the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, new from Harmonia Mundi. A rewarding performance on many levels, not least because it's thoughtfully sculpted, connecting structure to meaning.

A Splendid Italian Spoken-Dialogue Opera: De Giosa’s Don Checco

Never heard of Nicola De Giosa (1819-85), a composer who was born in Bari (a town on the Adriatic, near the heel of Italy), but who spent most of his career in Naples? Me, neither!

Winterreise by Mark Padmore

Schubert's Winterreise is almost certainly the most performed Lieder cycle in the repertoire. Thousands of performances and hundreds of recordings ! But Mark Padmore and Kristian Bezuidenhout's recording for Harmonia Mundi is proof of concept that the better the music the more it lends itself to re-discovery and endless revelation.

The Epic of Gilgamesh - Bohuslav Martinů

New recording of the English version of Bohuslav Martinů's The Epic of Gilgamesh, from Supraphon, the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Manfred Honeck. This is the world premiere recording of the text in English, the original language in which it was written.

Maybe the Best L’heure espagnole Yet

The new recording, from Munich, has features in common with one from Stuttgart that I greatly enjoyed and reviewed here: the singers are all native French-speakers, the orchestra is associated with a German radio channel, we are hearing an actual performance (or in this case an edited version from several performances, in April 2016), and the recording is released by the orchestra itself or its institutional parent.

Stéphanie d’Oustrac in Two Exotic Masterpieces by Maurice Ravel

The two works on this CD make an apt and welcome pair. First we have Ravel’s sumptuous three-song cycle about the mysteries of love and fantasies of exotic lands. Then we have his one-act opera that takes place in a land that, to French people at the time, was beckoningly exotic, and whose title might be freely translated “The Nutty and Delightful Things That Can Happen in Spain in Just One Hour”.

Stefano Secco: Crescendo

I had never heard of Stefano Secco before receiving this CD. But I see that, at age 34, he already has had a substantial career, singing major roles at important houses throughout Europe and, while I was not paying attention, occasionally in the US.

French orientalism : songs and arias, Sabine Devieilhe

Mirages : visions of the exotic East, a selection of French opera arias and songs from Sabine Devieilhe, with Alexandre Tharaud and Les Siècles conducted by François-Xavier Roth, new from Erato

Hans Werner Henze Choral Music

Hans Werner Henze works for mixed voice and chamber orchestra with SWR Vokalensemble and Ensemble Modern, conducted by Marcus Creed. Welcome new recordings of important pieces like Lieder von einer Insel (1964), Orpheus Behind the Wire (1984) plus Fünf Madrigale (1947).

Bettina Smith, Norwegian Mezzo, in Songs by Fauré and Debussy

Here are five complete song sets by two of the greatest masters of French song. The performers are highly competent. I should have known, given the rave reviews that their 2015 recording of modern Norwegian songs received.

Étienne-Nicolas Méhul: Uthal

The opera world barely knows how to handle works that have significant amounts of spoken dialogue. Conductors and stage directors will often trim the dialogue to a bare minimum (Magic Flute), have it rendered as sung recitative (Carmen), or have it spoken in the vernacular though the sung numbers may often be performed in the original language (Die Fledermaus).

A New Anna Moffo?: The Debut Disc of Aida Garifullina

Here is the latest CD from a major label promoting a major new soprano. Aida Garifullina is utterly remarkable: a lyric soprano who also can handle coloratura with ease. Her tone has a constant shimmer, with a touch of quick, narrow vibrato even on short notes.

Il sogno di Scipione: a new recording from Classical Opera

With this recording of Mozart’s 1771 opera, Il sogno di Scipione (Sicpio’s Dream), Classical Opera continue their progress through the adolescent composer’s precocious achievements and take another step towards the fulfilment of their complete Mozart opera series for Signum Classics.

Mozart’s Requiem: Pierre-Henri Dutron Edition

The stories surrounding Mozart’s Requiem are well-known. Dominated by the work in the final days of his life, Mozart claimed that he composed the Requiem for himself (Landon, 153), rather than for the wealthy Count Walsegg’s wife, the man who had commissioned it in July 1791.

Schumann and Mahler Lieder : Florian Boesch

Schumann and Mahler Lieder with Florian Boesch and Malcolm Martineau, now out from Linn Records, following their recent Schubert Winterreise on Hyperion. From Boesch and Martineau, excellence is the norm. But their Mahler Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen takes excellence to even greater levels

Hans Werner Henze : Kammermusik 1958

"....In lieblicher Bläue". Landmark new recordings of Hans Werner Henze Neue Volkslieder und Hirtengesänge and Kammermusik 1958 from the Scharoun Ensemble Berlin, with Andrew Staples, Markus Weidmann, Jürgen Ruck and Daniel Harding.

Elder conducts Lohengrin

There have been dozens of capable, and more than capable, recordings of Lohengrin. Among the most-often praised are the Sawallisch/Bayreuth (1962), Kempe (1963), Solti (1985), and Abbado (1991). Recording a major Wagner opera involves heavy costs that a record company may be unable to recoup.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Recordings

Franz Schubert: Dieschöne Müllerin
24 May 2006

SCHUBERT: Die schöne Müllerin

Franz Schubert's song cycle Die schöne Müllerin has received, in recent years, frequent attention with several fine recordings having been issued during this period.

Franz Schubert: Dieschöne Müllerin

Roman Trekel, baritone; Oliver Pohl, piano.

Oehms Classics OC 511 [CD]

$11.99  Click to buy

Roman Trekel brings his own sense of interpretation and nuance to the present recording, such that the performance of individual songs is as noteworthy as the overall effect of an emotional and narrative cycle. The writer Wilhelm Müller, on whose poetic work the song-cycle is based, conceived the series of texts with a frame, the outer poems being entitled "Der Dichter als Prolog" ("The Poet as a Prologue") and "Der Dichter als Epilog" ("The Poet as an Epilogue"). Although these two poems were not originally set by Schubert as part of the cycle, the printed texts are included in the notes to the present recording. The introductory poem functions as an invitation to the listener and a means to whet the curiosity of those who would gladly hear more of the adventures and hopes associated with the "Müllersknecht" ("miller's lad"). The ambivalence of optimism and frustration, of the brook and the mill, are then summarized in the concluding poem, so that the listener of the recording might reflect on the varying moods represented by singer and accompanist in this performance.

Already in the first song, starting in Schubert's cycle with "Das Wandern" ["Wandering"], the characteristic motifs of water and stream combined with wandering during a journey are effectively expressed through Trekel's vocal colorations. Complementary rhythms of voice and accompaniment suggest in Trekel's and Oliver Pohl's interpretation � a regular, external motion interwoven with inner contemplation and shifts in emotion. Together with songs two and three of the presentation here, a triad of anticipation is formed indicating motion toward the goal of the Müllerin who is first mentioned in the fourth song, "Danksagung an den Bach" ["Thanksgiving to the Stream"]. Trekel's enunciation and emphases set up an intimate friendship and dialogue with the Bach, or stream, that will lead him to the mill and the presence of the maid. In the second song, "Wohin?" ["Whither?"], Trekel as wanderer enhances his relationship with the stream in strophe two by intoning "hinunter" ["downward"] for the direction of his staff in order to identify with the natural, vertical motion of the stream spilling from the rocks, already described in the preceding strophe. In this dialogue with his partner in nature, Trekel poses such requisite questions, as "War es also gemeint?" ["Is that what you meant?"], with the suggestion of a secret communication that is, at once, fulfillment yet anticipation. As part of this communication, Trekel's vocal modulations suggest the external ambitions of working at the mill together with the emotional and erotic attractions for the maid. When he catches sight of the miller's house in Song 3, "Halt!" ["Stop!"], his voice descends to a whispering intimacy of discovery and wonder; here the tone achieved by Trekel moves from self-reflective musing to further questions for his confidante, the stream. As the lad attempts to adjust to the perception of his goals, the possibilities are matched by Trekel's varying his emphases between enthusiasm and caution. Once he has reached the chance for fulfillment in both spheres — labor and emotion — Trekel's voice celebrates in a tone of peaceful satisfaction the conjoining of the two at the close of Song 4, "Für die Hände, für’s Herze / Vollauf genug!” [“For the hands, for the heart / Enough and even more!”].

In the interpretation here achieved of Songs 5-11, Trekel’s persona remains in the proximity of the maid and reflects on his opportunities to ensure an emotional satisfaction. The progression of thought and feeling is underscored by the singer’s and accompanist’s emphasis of thematic connections between these songs, hence showing an inner development while the external activities remain constant. The dew in the flowers of Song 10, “Des Müller’s Blumen” [“The Miller’s Flowers”], is intoned to prepare for the manifold associations of the tears in the immediately following song, “Tränenregen” [“Shower of Tears”]. In much the same way, the frenetic accompaniment of Song 7, “Ungeduld” [“Impatience”], leads into the later peals of joy in Song 11, “Mein!” [“Mine!”]: here Trekel’s eager lad banishes the control of the steam and natural forces in general by announcing to all that the maiden is “mein.”

Indeed the song “Mein” functions as a turning point after which the softer and more contemplative tones of Trekel waver between shades that are realistic or melancholy. At first the lad is so burdened with emotion that he cannot sing. He hangs his lute on the wall with a green ribbon attached in the song “Pause.” The use of “green,” with both positive and negative associations, functions as a recurring motif throughout the second half of the song-cycle. Although it is a color beloved of the maiden, her attentions are later focused on a hunter also associated with hues of green. Incipient attempts by the lad to please the maiden’s desire for the color alter with the jealousy and disappointment seen in its very essence. Those songs before the final resignation of the lad at the conclusion of the cycle display in this recording a range of competing emotions. Trekel invests Song 16, “Die liebe Farbe,” [“The beloved Color”], with a sense of elegiac sadness, so that the line “Mein Schatz hat’s Grün so gern,” [“My beloved likes green so much”] speaks still of his devotion with the realization that she is lost to him. In the second strophe the call to a joyous hunt, “Wohlauf zum fröhlichen Jagen!” [“Up we go to the joyful hunt”!] gives in this performance the impression not of joy in the wood, but rather of a funereal procession. An abrupt burst of feeling in the following song, “Die böse Farbe” [“The dreadful color”], signals for Trekel both a farewell to the maiden and a recurrence of his earlier enthusiasm. Such energetic feelings are, however, short-lived, as Song 18, “Trockne Blumen” [“Dried Flowers”], indicates. Here Trekel addresses the flowers given him by the maiden, now destined for his grave, and intones with poignant irony the most memorable verses in this recording: “Der Mai ist kommen, der Winter ist aus” [“May has arrived, winter has departed”]: his love, although unreciprocated, will match the cycle of nature. The final song is given to the comforting voice of the stream, “Des Baches Wiegenlied” [“Lullaby of the Stream”], in a resolution that points to an ultimate resting place in nature. In this longest song of the cycle, with an intricate strophic accompaniment, Trekel varies his intonation by singing vowels with a distinctly full tone, in order to give a different color to the voice of the stream. With an appropriate thematic gesture recalling the start of the cycle, Trekel and Pohl conclude a performance that will surely rank among the finest of Schubert’s “Schöne Müllerin.”

Salvatore Calomino
Madison, Wisconsin

Send to a friend

Send a link to this article to a friend with an optional message.

Friend's Email Address: (required)

Your Email Address: (required)

Message (optional):