SCHUBERT Die Schöne Müllerin • Florian Boesch (bar); Malcolm Martineau (pn) • ONYX 4112 (62:45 Text and Translation)
A prominent singer of the past said there are two things to avoid in music: mezzo-forte, and moderato. If this is the case, we must give Florian Boesch an A and commend him as well for avoiding a third ubiquitous musical element, a steady tempo. TheRead more little river flows, the mill wheel turns, the hunter rides his horse, but by fits and starts. I don’t think there is a single phrase that is not sauced with rubato, often so excessive that it crosses the bounds of style: “Die liebe Farbe” is performed with the rhythmic elasticity of Mahler’s Liebst du um Schönheit. “Morgengruss” moves with the recitative like freedom of Debussy’s Colloque sentimental. In spite of these affectations, the dramatic range of this performance is quite limited. There is little exultation in “Mein,” little rage in “Eifersucht und Stoltz.” Boesch is inclined to the coy and the precious, rarely giving us his entire voice, and often crooning the pianissimos. His tone is attractive and well produced, but it is very difficult to believe him. The Volk element, so much a part both music and text, is missing, and he seems to flirt with the music rather than commit himself to it.
Malcolm Martineau, who hopefully plays the role of dutiful accompanist rather than culprit in stylistic matters, follows hand in glove the twists and turns of Boesch’s vocal line. The pianist’s superb control and beautiful tone have been put to better use in other performances of this cycle.
The sound technicians provide a warm intimate atmosphere, giving us access to all the refined nuances—and there are many—of this performance.