British tenor James Gilchrist and pianist Anna Tilbrook present a fresh, spontaneous take on Die schöne Müllerin that should interest anyone who loves the cycle. Gilchrist's light voice is exceptionally supple and young-sounding, and his creamy legato is evidence of a terrific technique. He beautifully captures the innocent exuberance of the protagonist that persists, because of the lover's willful but groundless optimism, well beyond the point where there is any reason for hope. The guilelessness that Gilchrist projects makes the protagonist's situation all the more poignant. As his awareness of the indifference of his beloved eventually unfolds, the singer's tone color reflects his affect, appropriately becoming more subdued, then melancholy, then plunged into dark despair, without sacrificing a lovely vocal sound. Some listeners might prefer a more distracted protagonist who is so overwhelmed by his grief that he practically howls his anguish, and there are singers who make a case for that interpretation, but Gilchrist is fully convincing as a young miller who is essentially a gentle, inward soul undone by sadness. He effectively uses his head voice to convey that temperamental inclination. The only drawback to his performance is an occasional explosive release on words ending in "ch" that betrays the fact that he is not a native German speaker. Tilbrook matches the emotional tone Gilchrist sets with great sensitivity and nuanced flexibility. The sound of Orchid Classics' CD is well-suited to the material and the performance: warm, very clean, immediate, and intimate.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Eddins
|Die schöne Müllerin, Op. 25, D 795|