Roman Trekel and Oliver
Pohl take us on an interesting, eminently
musical journey here. But the tell-tale
sign that all is not 'great' in the
sense of the greatest recordings is
that the final song, 'Des Baches Wiegenlied',
does not exude the lullaby-like hushed
stillness it should. We are not left
gazing into the middle-distance, having
been taken into Schubert's world. Rather
this Müllerin comes across
as less than the sum of its parts; no
matter how nice those parts may be.
Trekel's diction is
excellent. He manages not to gabble
in the faster Lieder ('Ungeduld', for
example) and he can be remarkably tender
(as he imagines the farewell in 'Die
böse Farbe'). The second lied,
'Whin?' shows Trekel's way with the
text at less hectic speeds. There is
no suggestion of over-emphasis; all
is still very, very clear.
Other highlights include
the raptness of 'Morgengruss', the calm
of 'Tränenregen' and the dark and
desolate 'Die liebe Farbe'. The spare
writing of No. 18, 'Trockne Blumen'
evokes the sadness of wilting flowers
in its spareness, while the china-like
delicacy of 'Der Neugierige' has one
sitting at the edge of the seat. 'Morgengruss'
has a lovely rapt feeling mixed with
awe for the protagonist's beloved.
To balance this, it
should be mentioned that one of the
vital songs, 'Mein!', is a little careful,
not approaching the sense of abandonment
that some interpreters reveal. Neither,
though, does Trekel go down the Bostridge
path (in his recent recording with Uchida)
of derangement and overtly obvious self-delusion.
And the very first song, 'Das Wandern',
despite Pohl's 'tramping along' piano,
does not reveal the happy, carefree
wandering of the text. The song-cycle
begins, in this sense, already some
way along its journey before the actual
music begins. An interesting idea, but
not one to emphasise the sense of journey
actually within the hour's worth of
music we hear, from carefree to desolation.
Perhaps the clean intervals
of 'Des Müllers Blumen' reveal
the problem. Much attention to detail,
fine technical prowess but not that
final engagement that is necessary to
grip the listener over the span of an
hour. The recording is excellently clear
and throughout Pohl is an eminently
musical, if not inspired, accompanist.
There are no accompanying
notes for this release and the text
is only given in German, but Oehms Classics
do include 'Der Dichter, als Prolog'
that precedes the first song.