Saturday 30 May 2015

Die schöne Müllerin from Mauro Peter and Helmut Deutsch on Wigmore Hall Live

Die schöne Müllerin - Mauro Peter
Schubert Die schöne Müllerin; Mauro Peter, Helmut Deutsch; Wigmore Hall Live
Reviewed by Robert Hugill on May 22 2015
Star rating: 4.0

Young tenor and veteran pianist in performance of sober lyric beauty

Mauro Peter is a young Swiss tenor and this Wigmore Hall Live disc is a record of the recital of Schubert's Die schöne Müllerin that Mauro Peter gave with the veteran pianist Helmut Deutsch in January 2014.

Mauro Peter sang in the Luzerner Singknaben and trained at Hochschule für Musik and Theater München with Fenna Kügel-Seifried, In 2012 he was part of the Young Singers Project at the Salzburg Festival, He is currently a member of the Opernhaus Zürich and roles include Tamino and Jacquino. He has a lyric tenor voice of great beauty and a high degree of finish, allied to a feeling for the phrasing and shape of Schubert's music. In this he is finely partnered by the sympathetic yet profoundly acute playing of Helmut Deutsch. The pairing of the two raises this performance to a very high level, and the degree of finish is remarkable for a live performance.

Schubert's Die Schöne Müllerin (the first of his three great song cycles), was written in 1823/24 just after he first came down with syphilis. The verses are not the artless quasi folk-tales that they might appear but the fruits of poet Wilhelm Müller's Liederspiel which was originally read at the house of a patron and developed into a published cycle. The original poems have a prologue and epilogue which give an ironic distance to the story; these are omitted by Schubert, who seems to have had no sense of irony in his songs. Instead he turns the story into a compassionate portrait of the rather intense young miller who kills himself for love after the millers daughter moves on to the rather more glamorous huntsman. And there is perhaps a sense of Schubert using the story as a lament for his own lost innocence.

Photo: Mauro Peter © Franziska Schrödinger
Photo: Mauro Peter
© Franziska Schrödinger
We open, of course, with the mill wheel turning in its stream, in a fabulous incarnation in Helmut Deutsch's piano. Mauro Peter sings lyrically, with finely shaped phrases, and superb words. But his young miller seems a very sober, slightly earnest young man, and certainly not manically upbeat like some. Wohin? continues this with a thoughtful intensification of mood. Mauro Peter is rather endearing in Halt!, and despite the considered feel to his phrasing he makes the mood urgent. Dankesgesang an den Bach is sung with a finely centred lyric voice, with a nicely thoughtful final verse when he refers to his heart.

Am Feierabend combines Helmut Deutsch's dramatic piano with Mauro Peter's ardent vocals, though even here he turns dreamy at the end of the verse when wishing the young maid might notice his love. Der Neugierige is simple and direct, with some touching moments, and perhaps a hint of prescience in the tone of the final verse. Ungeduld combines carefree joy with some brilliant piano detail, yet we are very aware that Mauro Peter's miller is a very sober, steady and earnest young man, perhaps even rather too intense. Morgengruss has touching moments and some great lyric beauty, but longing too, and hints of pain.

There are tender moments, beauty of line and superb words in Des Müllers Blumen, with a seriousness of purpose beneath the lyricism in Träenregen. At the end of this song her gets really misty eyed. But then we briefly see the young woman as she really is, rather than through the serious and over intense young miller's; she gets up, says it's about to rain, and goes off home! Mein! combines mill wheels in the piano, with perky delight in Mauro Peter's voice. The remarkable song, Pause with its striking freedom, is sung with simple directness. There is no sense of irony here, we share the young man's feelings yet marvel at his naivety.

Mit dem grünen Lautenbande combines Helmut Deutsch's insouciant piano with Mauro Peter's projection of carefree charm, and a lovely, yet obsessive, emphasis every time he says 'Du'. With Der Jäger we have wordy patter and excitement depicting the hunter. The performance is vital, with a sense of anger albeit rather sober. Despite the strong emotions in Eifersucht und Stolz, there is still a lovely shape to the phrasing. Die liebe Farbe great poise in its lyric melancholy, and is rather unnerving in its repetition of the phrase Mein Schatz hat's Jägen so gern (My love's so fond of hunting). The accompaniment, too, here is beautifully observed and finely crafted. Die böse Farbe alternates between swagger and misery.

Trockne Blumen is hypnotic in its repetition, and the ending combines beauty of tone with something like rapture. Der Müller und der Bach has great lyric melancholy; this is not the most psychologically acute performance but one which is subtle and profoundly beautiful. There is a sad elegance to the final Des Baches Wiegenlied.

Mauro Peter's sad, sober, serious and rather over intense young miller will not perhaps appeal to everyone. Yet in this remarkable live performance, he combines great lyric beauty, with superb musical virtues and an incredible sense of the text. Always Mauro Peter is partnered by Helmut Deutsch and it si the two who go on the journey together, the one perhaps tempering the other.

Franz Schubert (1797-1828) - Die schöne Müllerin D795 (1823/24) [62.17]
Mauro Peter (tenor)
Helmut Deutsch (piano)
Recorded live at the Wigmore Hall, London, on 18 January 2015
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