Jorma Hynninen / Ralf Gothóni

Schubert: Die schöne Müllerin

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As he demonstrates in this 1988 recording, Finnish baritone Jorma Hynninen has all the resources to pull off a beautifully nuanced and skillfully shaped performance of Schubert's cycle, Die schöne Müllerin. He is attentive to the musical and emotional contour of each song and is scrupulous in his observance of the composer's directions, and Hynninen is certainly engaged in the material. His grasp of the shape of the whole cycle is especially effective. His baritone is warm, lyrical, and beautifully produced, and his tone is consistently lovely. His singing has a studied artfulness and restraint, particularly in the early songs, though that sounds more calculated than freely spontaneous. It's a high bar to clear, to deliver the songs with an effortless-sounding facility while at the same time giving the music an urgency that makes it sound like it is being made up on the spot, but it is the difference between a performance that is excellent and one that is sublime. His performance does gather authority as it progresses, and the final despairing songs seem to resonate more strongly with him and are more persuasive than the earlier, jauntier ones; Der Müller und der Bach is especially moving. Pianist Ralf Gothóni plays with a beautiful sensitivity, and the passion of his contribution adds depth to the performance. Ondine's nicely ambient sound is clean and immediate.

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