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Schubert –Die schöne Müllerin, D795

Harry Sever and Nadanai Laohakunkorn


Tadpole Music – TAD 0606
[© & ℗ 2006 – 63 minutes]

Recording dedicated to Nicholas Wright 1940-2005

Almost all the recommended versions of Die schöne Müllerin were recorded by tenors or baritones of relatively mature years, far removed from Schubert’s callow apprentice falling in love for the first time.  The sleeve note of the present CD makes an eloquent case for the hapless lover to be younger still, voicing his adolescent crush in the high timbre of a boy, and certainly there is nothing in the Muller’s text to negate this approach.

By my calculation, Harry Sever was approaching his mid teens when he made the recording and the result must be applauded as a significant achievement. 

The first requirement for the listener is to adjust to the relatively small size of a treble voice by comparison with the piano, which in the opening song is imitating the cheerful rush of the stream as it turns the mill wheel, but once this step has been taken the advantages quickly follow.  Sever has a voice of rare beauty and clarity, and his shy and tentative approaches to the Miller’s pretty daughter are touching and effective.  Thereafter he reflects boundless joy and excitement and her apparent interest, and stages a very realistic fit of temper at his rejection.

Around half of the songs in this cycle are strophic and need a level of nuance and colouring in performance that is hard to achieve with an immature voice.  Sever passes the test with glowing success – this is a performance of rare insight and musical maturity.

Nadanai Laohakunakorn, not much older, proves himself a sensitive and supportive pianist, and the result is an hour of absorbing interest.

This may not be the only recording of the cycle that a Schubertian would want to have in their collection, but having heard it, it is one I would not wish to be without.

Serena Fenwick