Magazine article The New Yorker

Miller Time

Magazine article The New Yorker

Miller Time

Article excerpt

At the close of Schubert's "Die Schone Mullerin"--the most beloved of all song cycles--a young, itinerant mill worker, rejected in love by the beautiful daughter of his employer, decides to throw himself into the mountain stream that has guided him to his destiny. The treasury of recordings is dominated by such giants as Aksel Schiotz and Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, but the past few months have brought forth several aspiring suitors.

The recording by Jonas Kaufmann (on Decca) is a monument among them--a first foray into Schubert lieder by the finest German tenor since Fritz Wunderlich. Kaufmann, who has recently sung Lohengrin at Bayreuth, is every inch the romantic lead, offering intense, dusky vocalism and broad phrases of heroic cast; the playing of the experienced pianist Helmut Deutsch adds the extra interest, regal in manner but subtle in its awareness of Schubert's complex emotional landscape. James Gilchrist (accompanied by Anna Tilbrook, on Orchid Classics), who excels in concert works by Britten, Handel, and Tippett, would seem an unlikely competitor. But he survives by using his light tenor with poise, deftly shaping the performance with an exacting attention to the tonal colors of the German text. …

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