Lancashire Times
A Voice of the Free Press
Andrew Palmer
Group Editor
2:00 AM 11th June 2022

Classical Music Album: Schubert Die Schöne Müllerin

Schubert Die Schöne Müllerin

Gerald Finley - Baritone. Julius Drake - Piano
Hyperion CDA68377

Available as an MP3, iTunes, CD or FLAC and ALAC formats

This CD, telling the tale of the emotional difficulties of a young journeyman Miller’s infatuation with the miller maid, her acquiescence and subsequent rejection of him for a glamorous huntsman and his suicide in the millstream, completes Gerald Finley and Julius Drake’s survey of the great Schubert song cycles.

Richard Wigmore’s informative and interesting programme notes point out that many of the songs in Die Schöne Müllerin are in Strophic form (AAA) i.e., with the same music repeated for each verse. The performance challenge with this musical form is to ensure there are subtle differences and variation in the recital, something that Canadian bass-baritone Gerald Finley successfully demonstrates with a tone well suited to lieder.

The Finley/Drake powerful partnership continues its thriving synergetic approach in which the listener is rewarded with 66 minutes of a persuasive and absorbing interpretation. From the opening Das Wandern (Wandering) to the last Des Baches Wiegenlied (The Brook’s Lullaby) the duo provides a compelling and sensitive narrative capturing the nuances of Wilhelm Müller’s poetry.

With each stanza, singer and pianist hold the listener captive with beautiful musicianship covering a gamut of emotions with pace and feeling, Finley’s voice never too heavy and Drake’s accompaniments never intrusive. Des Müllers Blumen (The miller’s flowers) and Die Liebe Farbe (The beloved colour) exude loveliness and sadness.

As Drake begins the final lullaby and we anticipate what is to come the Finley/ Drake collaboration comfort us and as Wigmore writes: “… Die schöne Müllerin ends with a cosmic lullaby in which the millstream conjures a vision of universal harmony and rebirth. Muller was, we can guess, being ironic here. Not Schubert...”

A thoroughly enjoyable account.