Paris: Franz Schubert, “Die schöne Müllerin” performed at the Salle Pleyel

Parigi, Salle Pleyel, Stagione concertistica 2011/2012
Matthias Goerne e “Die schöne Müllerin”
Baritono Matthias Goerne
Pianoforte Christoph Eschenbach
Franz Schubert: Die schöne Müllerin D 795 Op. 25 (La bella mugnaia), ciclo di 20 lieder su testo di Wilhelm Mueller.
Parigi, 8 novembre 2011
A valiant young man wanders along a rustling brook wondering where it will lead. He falls upon a homely mill and finds work there. He falls in unrequited love with a beautiful miller-maid. She has already chosen a passing hunter. Envy, jealousy and desperation eventually lead to his drowning himself in the brook…
Mixed feelings about this performance of Die schöne Müllerin...In the opening two songs, both artists kept making interesting but unnecessary effects that blocked the wanderer’s boundless optimism. Eschenbach’s introductions to the strophic Das Wandern never once went straight to its last chord without a hesitation. And Matthias Goerne was often gasping for breath and moving too much away from a piano on the full stick. Too many little rallentandi in Wohin, not enough harmonic tightness in Halt! and a haltering  Danksagung an den Bach, all made the wandering young man seem melancholic too soon. He can be expected to have high hopes right up until “Mein”, the 11th lied, over half-way through. Pause lied nº 12 is the first real change in mood, when he hangs up his lute.
The cycle did have several highlights though. Am Feierabend with its energetic onward flow was the first of these. In Der Neugierige, both had beautiful control, creating a fantastic atmosphere for its second section : “O Bächlein meiner Liebe”. In Dein ist mein Herz , Goerne sang  with all the enthusiasm of love’s awakening. Three lieder, Mit dem grünen Lautenbande, Der Jäger and Eifersucht und Stolz were joined together, perhaps mistakenly. Each of the twenty lieder needs closure, even as the tension mounts. As soon as the down side of unrequited love did set in, Goerne and Eschenbach were often profoundly moving. Trockne Blumen and Der Müller und der Bach were expressive in the extreme, propelling us, in a back-to-the-future science fiction kind of way, straight to Mahler. In Des Baches Wiegenlied, the final resting-place of the young man, Goerne sang with irony about joy and pain giving way to the vast firmament. Goerne and Eschenbach gave a powerful version of this work, but maybe they themselves were thinking too much. The secret still lay buried in a whispering brook.
Matthias Goerne and Christoph Eschenbach will complete this Schubert  series with two concerts in the coming year at the Salle Pleyel, the Winterreise on February 28th, 2012 and the Schwanengesang (along with a performance by Eschenbach of the last Schubert Sonata D.860) on May 11th,