RECORDING OF THE MONTH
Franz SCHUBERT (1797–1828)
Die Schöne Müllerin, D 795 (1823)
1. Das Wandern [2:42]
2. Wohin? [2:05]
3. Halt! [1:25]
4. Danksagung an den Bach [1:49]
5. Am Feierabend [2:25]
6. Der Neugierige [3:45]
7. Ungeduld [2:32]
8. Morgengruss [3:56]
9. Des Müllers Blumen [2:58]
10. Tränenregen [3:31]
11. Mein! [2:14]
12. Pause [4:15]
13. Mit dem grünen Lautenbande [2:04]
14. Der Jäger [1:02]
15. Eifersucht und Stolz [1:29]
16. Die liebe Farbe [4:15]
17. Die böse Farbe [2:14]
18. Trockene Blumen [3:21]
19. Der Müller und der Bach [3:23]
20. Des Baches Wiegenlied [5:39]
21. Auf dem Strom, D 943 [8:30]
Daniel Behle (tenor), Sveinung Bjelland (piano), Ab Koster (horn) (21)
rec. Teldec Studio, Berlin, 6-8 June 2009
Sung texts with English translations enclosed
CAPRICCIO 5044 [65:46]
A year and a half ago I reviewed Daniel Behle’s debut recital and had only praise for it. I concluded the review thus: ‘A recording of Die schöne Müllerin is scheduled for June this year (2009). I can hardly wait for its release.’ Well, here it is and it was worth waiting for.
Behle, who studied with his mother, the dramatic soprano Renate Behle, has a beautiful, light lyrical tenor voice, suave in pianissimo, agile in faster passages and with surprisingly powerful fortes. Ungeduld (tr. 7), which he also sang on his debut disc, has all the intensity needed to express the eagerness and impatience. Tränenregen (tr. 10) is so flexible and natural in expression and Mein! (tr. 11) has true élan. But even more impressive is his restrained singing in songs like Der Neugierige (tr. 6), where his legato is so well controlled and his half-voice is ravishingly beautiful. Die liebe Farbe is sung like a caress and Trockne Blumen begins like a whisper. But it is not only the technical execution that impresses. He also has something to say about the songs, though he avoids the too explicit word-painting that has characterized Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau’s readings. Behle lets the words make impact through clear diction and unforced naturalness. In this respect he has so much in common with Jan Kobow, whose recording of this cycle has been my favourite since it was first issued. Kobow decorates the vocal line with some embellishments but not excessively so. He is also accompanied by a fortepiano which gives a crisper background. Sveinung Bjelland, playing on a modern instrument is however just as good and the only interpretative quirkiness – if that is what it is – is some quite heavy ritardandi. But this is very much a matter of personal taste and is in no way a hindrance to enjoying the music. Speeds are fastish without being rushed. I compared timings with Christian Elsner in the Naxos complete Schubert cycle and with one or two exceptions Behle was the faster, Elsner taking almost one and half minutes longer for the last song Des Baches Wiegenlied.
It was a brilliant idea to include Auf dem Strom, a very good song too rarely encountered in recital and on recordings. The main reason is the need for an extra musician, and what else can the horn-player perform, unless he plays some horn sonata? The horn part is quite testing and is not just some nice background embellishment. There is a parallel in Der Hirt auf dem Felsen where the clarinet, the voice and the piano form a chamber music trio. The mellower French horn matches well the tenor voice and Behle sings with glow and power.
The recording is spotless and with good liner-notes and the sung texts with English translations printed in the booklet this is a high-quality product. There is no shortage of good recordings of Die schöne Müllerin and if we concentrate on only tenors the list is impressive: from Aksel Schiøtz in the 1940s, via Peter Schreier, Nicolai Gedda and Ian Bostridge to Jan Kobow. This new recording has to be included among the top contenders, where also Christoph Prégardien’s recording from 2007 also is among the foremost interpreters (Challenge Classics CC72292).
Let’s hope there is more to come. Why not Dichterliebe next time? But while waiting for that issue this Müllerin should win admirers around the world.
Should win admirers around the world.