Popular baritone Roderick Williams has recorded a good deal of Schubert, some of it in English (which is rare these days). This reading of Die schöne Müllerin, D. 795, is the first of a trio of recordings devoted to Schubert's late song sets (Schwanengesang is not a true "cycle"), and it certainly suggests a major statement in the field. Call it a British Die schöne Müllerin, all intelligent restraint and precision. If you're looking for an inward, dramatic reading, try one of the newer German singers like Christian Gerhaher, who recites some of the poetry that originally connected lyrics. With Williams, there isn't a strong sense of a narrative developing in the cycle: what you have are 20 separate songs. Sample his dispassionate Trockne Blumen to hear whether you're in tune with his approach. Against this is the jewel-like quality of many of the individual readings. Williams and accompanist Iain Burnside have performed these songs together many times, and by now their partnership is one for the ages. Chandos' Potton Hall sound is ideal for this enterprise, and Williams' album is important listening, even for those who aren't entirely on board with his approach.
Schubert: Die schöne Müllerin Review
by James Manheim