Wednesday, 14 January 2009

230. Franz Schubert - Die schöne Müllerin (1823)


Title: Die schöne Müllerin/Lieder
Performers: Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Jorg Demus
Year: 1968
Length: 1 hour


I am slowly developing a great liking for Lieder, and I must tell you that it has been long in coming, but the more stuff like this I listen to the more I like it. Schubert is the undisputed king of lieder and this collection of narratively connected songs is the earliest song-cycle still performed frequently.

The most interesting thing about song cycles, for me at least, is the way in which the different songs shift emotion in the effort to tell a story. The story being a German Romantic one, the emotional shifts are quite strong and the emotions very pronounced.

If Schubert is the king of Lieder composition Fischer-Dieskau is the king of recorded lieder and his performance here if flawless. The piano is also excellent, and it never feels like a mere accompaniment to the voice, it is its own character in the tale.

Final Grade



From Wikipedia:

There are twenty songs in the cycle, around half in simple strophic form, and they move from cheerful optimism to despair and tragedy. At the beginning of the cycle, a young man wanders happily through the countryside. He comes upon a brook, which he follows to a mill. He falls in love with a beautiful girl who works there, the "beautiful mill-girl" of the title. He tries to impress her, but her response seems tentative. The young man is soon supplanted in her affections by a hunter clad in green, the colour of a ribbon he gave the girl. In his anguish he experiences an obsession with the colour green, then an extravagant death fantasy in which flowers sprout from his grave to express his undying love (see Adelaide (Beethoven) for a similar fantasy). In the end, the young man despairs and drowns himself in the brook. The last number is a lullaby sung by the brook.

The first four songs by Fischer-Dieskau:

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