Schubert: Die schone Mullerin Ian Bostridge (tenor), Graham Johnson (piano), with Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (Hyperion CDJ 33025)
Friday 22 March 1996
Bostridge really sounds the part. It's the clear, open timbre - fresh but not gauche, sweet but not cloying. It has "lyric" written all over it, a quality of truthfulness and - dare I use that unfashionable word - sincerity. It's infinitely flexible, too, ornamentations deftly tripping off the vocal cords. But most affecting is his way with text - sense, sensibility before "drama". He doesn't over-paint words; the feeling dictates the weight, the colour. You, the listener, feel rather than hear his change of heart between the fourth and fifth songs - Halt! and Danksagung an den Bach: it's hard to define a quality, but the voice is suddenly filled with desire, the obsession has begun. In Der Neugierige ("The Inquisitive One" - and that's another endearing characteristic of Bostridge's voice - inquisitiveness), the words "yes" and "no" (she loves me, she loves me not) mean "the whole world" to him: so note how he fills the word "ganze" ("whole"). Then the refrain "Dein ist mein Herz" ("My heart is yours") from Ungeduld - a real proclamation to be shouted from the rooftops, in marked contrast to his touching address Morgengruss or the distillation of Pause, where even one listener is too many, a violation of his privacy. There is a tragic dignity about Die liebe Farbe, a profound sense of loss conveyed in the gradual draining of colour. Bostridge has that rare ability both to respect the simplicity of the line and yet somehow to enrich it, elevate it. Drama is more often than not to be found in the rhythm and articulation - the contemptuous consonants, for instance, of Der Jager and Eifersucht und Stolz.
But you'll have got the picture by now. Bostridge has a great future. I wish I could say you read it here first, but that view is already pretty widespread. As ever, Graham Johnson's pianistic insights are as plentiful, as subtle, as penetrating as his documentation. Another marvellous disc in an eminently collectable series. ES
Die schone Mullerin with a narrator? Not exactly. When Schubert set Wilhelm Muller's cycle of poems to music, he left out five of them, and there was another, "An unrhymed song", which Muller himself thought better of including. There is absolutely no historical justification for putting them back, as Graham Johnson admits in his generous and fascinating notes; but it's worth hearing the cycle at least once with Muller's original prologue and epilogue, especially when it's so beautifully read by one of the song-cycle's great interpreters.
Anyway, you can easily edit out the readings if you want to experience the cycle as Schubert intended - in which case you are in for something rather special. Ian Bostridge may be one of the best things to happen to British lieder-singing in quite a while. This is no identikit English tenor: the voice may be light and sweet, but the expression is compelling. Bostridge's identification with the texts is remarkable. His interpretation is full of insight - yes, as Johnson says, there is something decidedly odd about the miller boy. Does his courtship with the beautiful maid of the mill take place in the real world at all, or is it pure fantasy? The contrasts in mood are startling; in Der Jager, the macho huntsman-suitor of the title invades the cycle, all the more of a wrench after the ideal, almost courtly devotion of Mit dem grunen Lautenband. But the sense of sequence is inescapable, too - the poor boy may not realise it, but if you put real people on pedestals, sooner or later they fall with a crash.
But let's not give Bostridge all the credit. Graham Johnson's accompaniment may be almost ideally discreet, but the insights he brings to the piano- writing are invaluable - the deliciously suggestive pointing of the opening phrases in Der Neugierige or the quiet, ominous pulsing of the repeated F sharp in Die liebe Farbe. The recordings make sure we miss nothing. A first-class addition to Hyperion's first-class Schubert cycle. SJ
Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challengeTV
Academy criticised after no non-white actors nominated
tvAn expose of hooliganism masquerading as an ideological battle
artLee Hadwin can't draw when he's awake, but by night he's an artist
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 The BBC has just done more to eradicate ‘terrorism’ than all our wars since 9/11
- 2 Dog thinks owner is drowning in lake, dives in and tries to pull him out
- 3 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
- 4 Chilling drone footage captures Auschwitz ahead of 70th anniversary of liberation
- 5 Narendra Modi: Indian Prime Minister wears suit with pinstripes that spell his name to meet Barack Obama
Ed Sheeran texts Noel Gallagher to offer him tickets after that Wembley Stadium rant
Sia apologises for 'Elastic Heart' music video that sees Shia LaBeouf wrestle 12-year-old Maddie Ziegler
Taylor Swift banned from Triple J Hottest 100: Fans react to epic #Tay4Hottest100 defeat
Mortdecai becomes Johnny Depp's fifth consecutive box office bomb
Last Tango in Halifax, review: Can we ever really move on from Kate?
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
French court convicts three over homophobic tweets, in case hailed as a 'significant victory' by LGBT rights campaigners
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British Muslim school children suffering a backlash of abuse following Paris attacks
Islamic history is full of free thinkers - but recent attempts to suppress critical thought are verging on the absurd
Leaked documents show Ukip leaders approve NHS privatisation once it becomes more 'acceptable to the electorate'