52,943 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

  Founder: Len Mullenger             Editor in Chief: John Quinn               Contact Seen and Heard here  

Some items
to consider

£11 post-free anywhere
Normal service resumed


100th birthday of Mieczyslaw Weinberg on December 8, 2019.
Renate Eggbrecht has recorded all 3 violin Sonatas


Recordings of the Month


Beethoven String Quartets

Produzioni Armoniche

Seven Symphonic Poems

Shostakovich VC1 Baiba Skride
Tchaikovsky Symph 5 Nelsons

Vivaldi Violin Concertos



Beethoven Piano Concertos

Stradal Transcriptions

LOSY Note d’oro

Scarlatti Sonatas Vol 2


Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off
15CDs £83 incl. postage

Musicweb sells the following labels

Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger


CD: AmazonUK AmazonUS
Download: Classicsonline

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)
Die schöne Müllerin D795 (1823) (Das Wandern [2:27]; Wohin? [2:03]; Halt! [1:27]; Danksagung an den Bach [2:42]; Am Feierabend [2:19]; Der Neugierige [4:05]; Ungeduld [2:27]; Morgengruss [4:23]; Des Müllers Blumen [2:56]; Tränenregen [4:20]; Mein! [2:15]; Pause [5:27]; Mit dem grünen Lautenbande [1:59]; Der Jäger [1:04]; Eifersucht und Stolz [1:35]; Die liebe Farbe [5:02]; Die böse Farbe [2:02]; Trockne Blumen [4:19]; Der Müller und der Bach [5:02]; Des Baches Wiegenlied [7:27])
James Gilchrist (tenor); Anna Tilbrook (piano)
rec. 27-28 April 2009, Champs Hill, Sussex. DDD
German texts and English translations included

Experience Classicsonline

Much of how one reacts to a lieder singer is very subjective: does one like the singer’s voice or not? Unlike with instrumentalists, where style is the main criterion of approval, timbre, which, for the most part is innate, is the differentiating element among singers.

Listening to Gilchrist sing this wonderful song-cycle, I had very mixed feelings. He is certainly an accomplished artist, and there are times when his airy tenor seems to fit the music quite well; for example, two of the slower songs, Des Müllers Blumen and Tränenregen, near the middle of the cycle, sound quite nice in his voice. He has a good control of vibrato, which he generally uses mostly at the end of phrases rather than a permanent waver. This style of singing sounds much more like a baroque method of using vibrato than one that lieder singers use; it’s worth noting that Gilchrist has performed and recorded a number of Bach cantatas and other baroque works. One aside: I am constantly irked by the odd habit of British singers to roll their Rs in German songs much more than many Germanic singers do; it sounds odd and affected. This is present in certain songs more than others, but when I hear it, it makes me wince.

But Gilchrist’s airy voice doesn’t work throughout the cycle, and he tries to compensate for this by slowing down some of the songs; a technique which, in my opinion, does not always work very well.

One difficult song in this cycle is Der Jäger, which is quite rapid, and calls for an extremely detailed technique in order to keep up with the piano. Gilchrist has trouble here, and a couple of times in this song he audibly gasps to keep his breathing up to speed.

In Die liebe Farbe, one of the most melancholy songs in the cycle, I find that Gilchrist just doesn’t express the emotion for which this song calls. Gilchrist has a “sweet” quality, a tenor leaning almost toward that of a counter-tenor, and this song calls for more “bite”, more seriousness. Comparing Gilchrist’s recording with Ian Bostridge’s version of this song on his Hyperion record with Graham Johnson shows some striking differences. Not only is Bostridge far more emotive, but the overall tempo - one minute less in Bostridge’s recording - gives this song much more power than Gilchrist’s plodding approach. The same is the case for Peter Schreier’s recording with Andras Schiff; with a tempo close to that of Bostridge, he sculpts this song more richly than Gilchrist who attempts to make it more emotional by slowing it down.

In Des Baches Wiegenlied, the final song, Gilchrist again opts for a slow tempo - once again, more than a minute slower than Bostridge or Schreier - as if to compensate by speed for the sound of his voice. This song sounds sweet here; not the effect that the song should truly give to the listener.

I found the overwhelming reverberation in this recording disturbing, and the position of the voice seems to be a bit too distant and is sometimes too soft compared to the piano. Unlike the wonderful mix of the Bostridge/Johnson recording, Gilchrist and Tilbrook sound a bit muddy.

I should note that we have another review of this recording on MusicWeb International, by my colleague John Quinn. I didn’t read his review until I wrote the above, but then went to see what he had said. John talks about Gilchrist’s performance being “dark”, and it seems to me the only darkness is expressed here by tempo, because it’s so difficult for a voice as light as his to express the darkness in this cycle.

Nevertheless, Gilchrist does have a fine, attractive voice. While some of the songs work well, I find that the overall cycle doesn’t provide the same satisfaction as, say, Bostridge’s recording (if one limits the field to tenors), or Fischer-Dieskau’s 1961 recording with Gerald Moore, recently reviewed here.

Kirk McElhearn

see also review by John Quinn



Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews


      Composer surveys
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site


Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure



Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Pat and present

Helpers invited!

How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips

Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Other links
Web News sites etc

A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.