Baritone Christopher Maltman's reputation as an exceptionally sensitive and intelligent singer with a warm, supple voice is fully borne out in this recording of Die schöne Müllerin. The same adjectives would apply to his partner at the piano, Graham Johnson. Maltman and Johnson emphasize the dramatic trajectory of the cycle; this protagonist experiences the heights and depths of romantic passion with special intensity. The entire cycle is beautifully shaped and the musicians bring intelligence and nuance to the contour of each song, persuasively conveying the emotional volatility of the young lover. Maltman's richly lyrical voice has a full range of colors that he employs to splendid effect whether in the virile impetuosity of "Ungeduld," or the hushed, grieving half-voice of "Tränenregen," or the crazed desperation of "Eifersucht und Stolz." Each line is intelligently and thoughtfully delineated, but he always manages to sound spontaneous, never careful or studied. Maltman is in absolute control of the music and his delivery sounds effortlessly expressive. The sound quality makes it clear that this is a live recording. The balance is good, and Maltman and Johnson are always clearly audible, but there's an inescapable sense of distance from the listener that's in contrast to the many superb recordings of the cycle that have vivid and immediate sound. The quality of the performances, though, particularly Maltman and Johnson's ability to sweep the listener up in the protagonist's dilemma, make this a version that should interest anyone who loves the songs and is willing to listen past the less-than-stellar acoustic.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Eddins
|Die schöne Müllerin, D 795|