Die shöne Müllerin, Wigmore Hall, London

Sweet suffering, then rest
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The Independent Culture

Thomas Quasthoff's realisation of this sequence of 20 songs gave full value to Wilhelm Müller's lyrical poems and Schubert's settings, which expose every frayed nerve-ending of the central character's unstable ego. His sizeable and wide-ranging baritone ranged from the most intimate of secret confessions to statements of hopelessly over-optimistic grandiloquence.

Along the lonely young miller's route to self-destruction his closest companion is the mill stream, whose fluid mood-shifts are represented by the piano. Quasthoff's accompanist Charles Spencer was every inch his equal in searching out meaning. The 536 repetitions of a single note in "The beloved colour" were scarily obsessive, and the tender warmth of the closing lullaby in which the stream offers the young man rest "until the sea drinks the brooks dry" disconcertingly attractive. GH

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