Set to lyrical texts by Wilhelm Müller Franz Schubert’s Die schöne Müllerin requires intelligence, sensitivity and technique from both the singer and the pianist who set out to perform it – that, and the courage to add one’s interpretation to a long list of historic and contemporary recordings by male singers of every vocal category and legendary accompanists,
A vocal and interpretive hurdle course with its bars set high for both singer and pianist, Schubert’s song cycle about an ill-fated love is along with the same composer’s Schwanengesang and his final Winterreise a rite of passage for singers of German Lieder.
Hans Hotter, Thomas Quasthoff brought their darker bass-baritone voices to their recordings of Die schöne Müllerin with most of the twenty songs that make up the cycle sung in keys lower than those in the original, while tenors – notably Ian Bostridge – are able to lend their higher, sweeter sound to Schubert’s original keys. But it is the lyric baritones who to the ears of this listener are best able to encompass the variety of colors demanded by this music.
Welcome the golden voiced baritone Thomas Meglioranza, whose partnership with the gifted Reiko Uchida yields splendid results in their just-released CD, simply titled Die schöne Müllerin. Ushida plays the accompaniments on an 1829 Zierer fortepiano, drawing a wide-ranging palette of colors from the instrument while providing a solid yet pliable platform for Meglioranza.
The singer’s excellent diction in idiomatic German, his range of colorations from a youthfully vulnerable Wohin to the biting anger of Der Jäger to the poignancy of the closing Des Baches Wiegenlied position Meglioranza in the company of many of the iconic German baritones of the past, notably the formidable Gerhard Hüsch, with whom Meglioranza has much in common, including a remarkably similar bright, ringing approach to the D-D-F upper range in which many a baritone comes to grief.
There is much to celebrate here, including both artists’ uncomplicated, unaffected approach that mercifully avoids over-interpretive eccentricity. There’s also the accompanying booklet with the texts of the songs in German and English, and the straightforward engineering by Paul Eachus, all of which go into making this CD available directly from the artist at http://www.meglioranza.com a valuable addition to the libraries of those who love German Lieder.
The album is available from CD Baby as a physical CD as well as a download.
https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/thomasmeglioranza3 It’s also on iTunes and most of the streaming services. And it should be showing up on Amazon any day now.
Rafael de Acha http://www.Rafael’sMusicNotes.com