I have once received a crazy review. The critic had listened very precisely in the process. He had found fault with a technical matter: soft consonants and slightly shaded end vowels – for example, a tendency to a shaded “kommaeh” when it, however, had to be a lighter “kommee”. This minor shading, however, in my case, is based on a fundamentally vocal conviction: It enables me to sing a soft legato. For me, the legato is a means of transport, which has no alternative – unless, of course, what is demanded is a ‘non-legato’. I am very discreet, as compared to others, when it comes to setting contrasts. My musical sound ideal is different from that of a Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau.
He was an external consonant contrast setter.
And that, precisely, is the moment, where I step out in concerts, where the thread snaps. It has a form of the “Zelebrrrierrrens” (“Celebrrrate”) with a schnurrrrrrrendem (“nuzzzzzzling”) Y and exact pronunciation of the ‘t’. That is like a pin prick. There are songs where this is necessary, somewhat with ballads. But take, for example, Schubert’s tender and fragile ‘Erster Verlust’ (‘First Loss’). It is emotionally destructive if I sing with an ‘Achch! Werr brringtt die schschoenen Ttage, jene Ttage der erssttten Liebe…’.
The message is conveyed more by the sound as with the word…
I must express myself by saying that I do not need to recite anything and this “narrate something to the people” is fine only with certain stuff. What, then, is the aim of a musical evening? One would like to reach out to the people and confront them with feelings, which are more seldom and which belong less and less to day-to-day life. I am more inclined to resent it when a singer tries to explain to me what the text means. But then, there are also those who cannot tolerate that. Interestingly, there is no in-between to the opinion regarding my kind of singing.
Matthias Goerne on Schubert’s “Die schoene Muellerin” (The beautiful miller’s wife”)
A tradition, which is very much attached to “Biedermeier”, has been established by many renowned singers who interpret Schubert’s “Schoene Muellerin” (“The beautiful miller’s wife”). There is, so to speak, a standard image: the small Bach, the delicate Green; the young chap, of the light foot, tagging along with a song on the lips – on his way to a beautiful love story, which then ends sadly. This is not correct in relation to Schubert. It does not do justice to the Storm-and-Stress feeling of life, which belongs to the piece. Nothing at all can be more dramatic than in making the transition from life to death.
“Die schoene Muellerin” (“The beautiful miller’s wife”) shows the path of a passionate human being, having an earnest desire to live, from infatuation to catastrophe. This development allows absolutely absurd and delusional sides of the miller to emerge. There is no dialogue actually between him and the miller’s wife. He lives in soliloquy. Is he not naïve? I do not think so – although I have grown up with this interpretation. I interpret the miller chap as a character, who has to come to grief with his absolute demands. When one perceives the world as if the fault is always on the other side, and that one cannot handle things himself differently, because one always projects this, then this is tantamount to suicide.
A character that finally has no hope whatsoever. This is contrast to “Winterreise” (“Winter journey”), where there is hope. The organ grinder at his end is not really the end, even he is often incorrectly brought in connection with the grim reaper. The Winterreise (“Winter journey”) has an open end for me. Its protagonist is not as fantastic as the miller fellow. He rises up, but then finds a clarified perception to life. In contrast, in the “Muellerin” (miller’s wife) there is either everything or nothing at all.
They sing the “Muellerin” (“Miller’s wife”) in their recording with Eric Schneider right to the end of the Mueller fellow. You need 9 instead of the usual 6 minutes for the final lullaby, so why such extreme tempi?
I have often sung in concerts before recording something. The interpretation has then built up gradually. At the end, Bach sways the one who is bent on suicide, since he would like to remove his anxiety from taking the last step. An uncanny, alluring situation! It can only be created with a reduction of the tempo. One can, of course, accuse me of the fact that I treat the tempo “moderately”, which occurs thrice in the number. However, I can live with it, since the solution is a conclusive one for me.