Franz Schubert

Die schöne Müllerin, song cycle, for voice & piano, D. 795 (Op. 25)

    Description by Jeremy Grimshaw

    Schubert's most recognized contribution to the musical canon was not merely his revolutionary approach to song, but his combination of vitally connected songs into cycles, as exemplified in his two cycles on texts by Wilhelm Müller, Die Schöne Müllerin in 1823, and Die Winterreise in 1827. "A frown from fortune," speculated Schubert scholar Richard Capell in 1928, "and Die Schöne Müllerin might have been but another of those rambling tales, extended beyond every lyrical propriety, with which Schubert now and again, as cannot be disguised, has fairly bored us. Thanks to Müller, it was something quite different -- new, and endlessly engaging. The all-important advantage is that the interruptions in the recital afford a succession of new standpoints in time: a drama is revealed to us in a series of lyrical moments." One need not accept Capell's perfunctory and unforgiving generalizations of Schubert's output in order to realize that, with Die Schöne Müllerin, Schubert found a way to reconcile -- in an extraordinary and synergistic fashion -- his gift for poignant melody with the demands of large-scale form.

    Still, there is something paradoxical in the last phrase of Capell's argument, which appears to admit as a plus what elsewhere seems a minus: that the moments themselves, rather than creating a finely crafted composite with a constructional integrity approaching Beethoven, are just so poignant as to make listeners oblivious to any weaknesses in the musical, poetic, and semantic macrocosm. Resonating with this view is a common reaction to Schubert's instrumental works -- that the Unfinished Symphony, for example, is made up of a considerable variety of tunes, each of an impressive quality, disqualifying as pedantic any attempt to analyze their arrangements and relationships. Perhaps realizing that, depending on the text's level of semantic generality, his approach as a composer may lack consistency, Schubert used the recurring images in Müller's texts (the flow of the stream, the orbit of the mill wheel) to serve as a kind of unifying semantic space, within which his miraculous "lyrical moments" can occur.

    The first of the song cycle's texts quickly establishes the anxiously and sometimes uneasily circular paths the 20 songs will take, and one can immediately suspect that this will not be a narrative of events so much as an exploration of certain recurring, expressive modes: "To wander is the millers joy...to wander, to wander, to wander...." The bipartite strophic nature of the song resonates with the metaphorically circular images of the text: the water running through its eternal course; the wheel outside the mill, set in motion by the water's current; the millstones inside the mill, translating the water's endless wandering.

    Strophic forms reflect these recurring symbols while allowing for a surprising range of expression. In "Die Liebe Farbe," for example, an entirely strophic (repeated) melody accompanies three verses of texts with widely varying effects. In the first, the speaker tells of the green adornments he shall don to please his love, since green is her favorite color. In the second verse, the subject is a hunter "hieing across the meadows," presumably in hunter's green. Listeners are left to assume that the hunter has stolen the speaker's love, for in the last verse, the green he shall wear is the green grass atop his grave. The once sprightly melody has now been transformed, without any apparent musical means, into the voice of irony and bitterness (underscoring Schubert's rumored opinion that there is no such thing as truly "happy music"). By looking to the text for cohesion, Schubert finds even more expressive possibilities in the music itself.

    Parts/Movements

    1. Das Wandern
    2. Wohin?
    3. Halt!
    4. Danksagung an den Bach
    5. Am Feierabend
    6. Der Neugierige
    7. Ungeduld
    8. Morgengruss
    9. Des Müllers Blumen
    10. Tränenregen
    11. Mein!
    12. Pause
    13. Mit dem grünen Lautenbande
    14. Der Jäger
    15. Eifersucht und Stolz
    16. Die liebe Farbe
    17. Die böse Farbe
    18. Trockne Blumen
    19. Der Müller und der Bach
    20. Des Baches Wiegenlied

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2018 SWR Music SWR 19064CD
    2017 Capriccio Records C 5290
    2017 Sony Classical 88985427402
    2016 Deutsche Grammophon 4796438
    2016 Gramola GRAM 99065
    2016 Ars Produktion / Ars Produktion ARS 38535
    2016 Harmonia Mundi HMX 290875061
    2015 Deutsche Grammophon 4795448
    2015 CAvi-music AVI 8553333
    2015 Relief CR 3006
    2015 Wigmore Hall Live WHLIVE 0075
    2015 Orfeo C 737151A
    2015 Wigmore Hall Live WHLIVE 0072
    2015 Warner Classics 2564620418
    2015 Erato 0825646237012
    2014 Centaur Records CRC 3286
    2014 Decca 4808151
    2014 Decca
    2013 Deutsche Grammophon 002894791780
    2013 Onyx Classics ONYX 4112
    2013 Preiser Records PR 93487
    2013 Newton Classics 8802201
    2013 Oehms / Oehms Classics OC 882
    2013 Orchid Classics ORC 100034
    2012 Arte Verum ARV 200
    2012 Deutsche Harmonia Mundi / DHM Deutsche Harmonia Mundi 5460232
    2012 Dux Records DUX 0588
    2012 Decca
    2012 Andromeda 5009
    2011 Documents 231756
    2011 Gramola 98926
    2011 Claves 501105
    2011 Wigmore Hall Live WHLive0044
    2011 Preiser Records PR90789
    2011 Bryce Westervelt
    2011 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099908520
    2011 Naxos 8503801
    2011 Membran 232763
    2010 Deutsche Grammophon
    2010 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099945635229
    2010 Ondine 2532D
    2010 Newton Classics 8802012
    2010 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099945609
    2010 Gala Records 10067
    2010 Oehms / Oehms Classics 816
    2010 Deutsche Grammophon
    2010 Decca
    2010 Deutsche Grammophon
    2010 Deutsche Grammophon
    2010 Harmonia Mundi 907519
    2010 Hyperion 30020
    2010 Capriccio Records 5044
    2010 EMI Classics 965940
    2010 Orchid Classics 100006
    2010 Decca 14133
    2010 Arte Verum 8
    2010 Deutsche Grammophon 4778989
    2010 Deutsche Grammophon
    2009 Harmonia Mundi 901995
    2009 EMI Classics
    2009 Haenssler 93180
    2009 Denon Records
    2009 EMI Classics
    2009 Denon Records
    2008 Deutsche Grammophon 4777956
    2008 Ars Produktion / Ars Produktion 38701
    2008 Brilliant 93163
    2008 ZYX Music 10323
    2008 Challenge Classics 72292
    2008 EMI Classics 5669072
    2008 Ondine 719
    2008 Sony Classical 48287
    2008 RCA Red Seal 88697194892
    2008 Avi 553029
    2008 Brilliant 93673
    2008 Danacord 451/60
    2007 Symposium 1367
    2007 Harmonia Mundi 1951708
    2007 Dorian 90702
    2007 Profil - Edition Günter Hänssler 6063
    2007 EMI Classics 00934
    2007 EMI Music Distribution 385853
    2007 Preiser Records 89306
    2006 Danacord 452
    2006 Berlin Classics 0185612
    2006 Musica Omnia 0107
    2006 Nightingale 71460
    2006 Nonesuch
    2006 Northern Flowers 9929
    2006 Arte Nova 531720
    2006 Tudor Records 7106
    2005 Alba 193
    2005 Hyperion 44201
    2005 Deutsche Grammophon 474 2182GH
    2005 Oehms 511
    2005 EMI Classics 7243557827
    2005 EMI Classics
    2005 ATMA Classique ACD22315
    2005 CBC Records 1170
    2005 EMI Classics
    2005 Deutsche Grammophon 4775765
    2005 Deutsche Grammophon
    2004 Berlin Classics 0032822BC
    2004 Document 220760
    2004 Amerimusic 1202
    2004 Haenssler 94506
    2004 Brilliant 92394
    2003 Guild Historical GHCD2250/3
    2003 Novalis 150172
    2003 Channel Classics 18898
    2003 Classic Collection 99855
    2003 Decca 000201002
    2003 Nimbus 1781
    2002 Decca 470025
    2002 EMI Music Distribution 74855
    2001 History 205153
    2001 Brilliant 99443
    2000 Deutsche Grammophon 463500
    2000 Harmonia Mundi 901708
    2000 Deutsche Grammophon 463 502-2GFD
    1999 Grammofono 2000 78942
    1999 Vocal Archives 1163
    1999 Malibran Music 111
    1999 Arcana 57
    1999 Danacord 396
    1999 Ottavo 89866
    1999 Philips 456581
    1999 EMI Music Distribution 66959
    1998 Berlin Classics 0093152
    1997 Capriccio Records 490777
    1997 Berlin Classics 0092872
    1997 Querstand 9610
    1997 Capriccio Records 10774
    1997 Caprice Records 21575
    1997 Deutsche Grammophon 4536762
    1997 Nimbus NI1766
    1997 Delos 5501
    1996 Orfeo 432961
    1996 CBC Records 2010
    1996 Preiser Records 90293
    1996 Hyperion CDJ33025
    1996 Berlin Classics 0092842
    1996 Deutsche Grammophon 447452
    1996 Universal Classics & Jazz
    1995 Preiser Records 89202
    1995 EMI Music Distribution 68580
    1995 Preiser Records 93337
    1995 Berlin Classics 0011232
    1995 Art of Classics 885912
    1994 Capriccio Records 10082
    1994 RCA Victor Red Seal 61705
    1993 Dorian 90162
    1993 Deutsche Grammophon 437235
    1993 Philips 438511
    1992 DHM Deutsche Harmonia Mundi 77273
    1992 Deutsche Grammophon 435145
    1992 Nimbus 5253
    1992 Nimbus 5023
    1992 Nonesuch 79293
    1991 Deutsche Grammophon / Universal Music Classics and Jazz
    1991 EMI Music Distribution 63559
    1991 London 430414
    1985 Deutsche Grammophon 415186
    Accord 206072
    Pilz 442115
    Ambitus 97852
    Curb 78011
    Pilz 442114
    Grammofono 2000 78679
    Denon Records 1072
    History 205154
    UWM School of Music 9132
    Verona Records 2701
    Claremont Recordings 785067
    Brilliant 93673/28
    Brilliant 92394/28
    Brilliant 99444
    Well-Tempered Productions 5183
    Phaedra 292002
    EMI Music Distribution 47173
    EMI Music Distribution 56240
    Vocal Archives 1195
    Brilliant 93163/9
    EMI Music Distribution 4672
    Pearl 9479
    Capriccio Records 49078
    Documents 223083303