Ian Bostridge continues his exploration of Schubert song cycles on PENTATONE with a recording of Die schöne Müllerin, together with pianist Saskia Giorgini. Die schöne Müllerin (1823) was Schubert’s first song cycle, and simultaneously Bostridge’s first extended introduction to the Lied and all its wonders. Schubert initially conceived the cycle together with poet Wilhelm Müller as a party game among friends, but gradually got captivated by the profundity of this apparently naïve love story. Bostridge is equally fascinated by the way in which this playful, folksy piece gradually transforms into a cosmic lullaby in the final lines of the last song ‘des Baches Wiegenlied’. For pianist Giorgini, the key to - but also the greatest challenge of - interpreting Schubert’s music, and particularly Die schöne Müllerin, lies in the oceanic experience and hypnotic power of repetition. Ian Bostridge is one of the most celebrated tenors and lied interpreters of his generation. His PENTATONE recording of Schubert’s Winterreise (2019) was crowned with the ICMA Vocal Music Award 2020. Saskia Giorgini makes her PENTATONE debut.
"Much of the rest of my career as a lieder singer has been an attempt to escape from that naïveté and to reflect the deeper waters of pieces like the “Müllerin.” That’s been annoying for some people who prefer limpid beauty to psychological torment. In my latest recording, with the brilliant Italian pianist Saskia Giorgini, a veteran of the solo repertoire whose perspective on Schubert is inflected by her immersion in Liszt and Enescu, I hope to reach some sort of accommodation between the naïve and the sentimental, the mellifluously straightforward and the anxiety-ridden hall of mirrors. The journey to do justice to the miller’s journey is an endless one."
- Ian Bostridge for the New York Times. Ian is the author of “Schubert’s Winter Journey: Anatomy of an Obsession.”
The Die schöne Müllerin poems increase in seriousness and depth as the cycle proceeds, and it is here that Bostridge adds intensity instead of striving for detachment. He has an ideal partner in the enterprise with accompanist Saskia Giorgini, whose activist stance adds new layers to the music. It's also true that Bostridge, aged 54 when the performance was given, might have had a hard time with an innocently youthful Die schöne Müllerin, but his voice really shows no signs of strain, and his interpretation is coherent and impactful. The live performance also adds something here. The listener is definitely put in a position of not knowing quite where Bostridge is going to go next, and this is all to the good. A major statement from a durable Schubert interpreter.
– AllMusicGuide.com (James Manheim)