We are here to encourage the development of gifted young singers and to stimulate the growth of New York City's invaluable chamber opera companies. But we will not neglect the Metropolitan Opera either. Get ready for bouquets and brickbats.

Friday, March 7, 2014


Matthias Goerne (photo by Marco Borggreve)
With a large dark baritone sound reminiscent of a glass of stout, Matthias Goerne held the Carnegie Hall audience spellbound for over an hour as he performed Schubert's deeply moving song-cycle Die Schöne Müllerin.  The most impressive aspect of the recital was how incredibly in tune with each other were Mr. Goerne and his collaborative pianist Christoph Eschenbach.  It would be fair to say that no subtlety in Wilhelm Müller's text went unrevealed, nor was any phrase not mined and explored.

We have heard this meisterwerk time and time again and have always heard something new in it as each interpreter finds something within to add to the words and notes on the printed page.  The tale is a simple one and typical of 19th c. German Romanticism; a young lad sets out on what may have been his wanderjahre guided by a brook in which he confides his thoughts and feelings; he gets himself a job as an apprentice to a miller, falls in love with the miller's daughter, loses her to a robust hunter and drowns himself in the brook.

What makes the work interesting is the wide range of emotions the lad experiences, all of which are reflected in music of astounding variety and lyricism.  We hear optimism and despair, pride and shame, curiosity and energy, confusion and anger, sometimes even within the same song.  The other major feature is the way the piano writing paints an aural picture for the listener; we hear the babbling of the brook, the roaring of the mill wheel and the warbling of the lark.

Mr. Goerne took on the role of the lad with complete abandon, investing every song with high drama. We were particularly moved by the softer gentler songs.   If we should utter a sole complaint, it would be that his body movement was a bit excessive and distracting.  We are sure his dramatic instincts will serve him well at The Metropolitan Opera as he takes over for an ailing Thomas Hampson in Wozzeck!

© meche kroop

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