Matthias Goerne / Eric Schneider

Schubert: Die schöne Müllerin

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How a performance of Schubert's Die schöne Mullerin is interpreted depends entirely upon how the listener feels about romantic love. Is it the greatest gift of the gods? Is the character of the miller a divinely inspired romantic who loves perhaps not wisely, but too well, or an example of the worst neurotic delusion of the psyche? Is the miller a weak fool who deludes himself into a one-sided love affair from which he can only extract himself by killing himself? In the case of Die schöne Mullerin, everything depends on how convincing the singer is at portraying the miller: is he a figure of sympathy or ridicule, a character who is ironically disdained by his audience or who, for all his faults, is loved compassionately by his audience? In Matthias Goerne's interpretation, the miller is surely a fool, a fool whose naïveté leads him into a hopeless love and whose innocence leads him into inevitable suicide, but a fool who is entirely sympathetic, a fool who is what we all once were, a fool with whom Goerne has the profoundest compassion and a fool for whom the audience -- whatever their postmodern ironic distance -- cannot help but feel the profoundest compassion, too. Although Goerne's finely shaded baritone may be a little too dark for the youthful miller, his command of every nuance of the role and his control of every aspect of his voice makes his recording almost a rival for Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau's superb 1951 recording.

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