Acclaimed baritone Christopher Maltman will release the complete Schubert song cycles – Die Schöne Müllerin, Winterreise and Schwanengesang, on Wigmore Hall Live during 2011-12.
Recorded over a series of live dates, Maltman has collaborated with one of the world’s foremost authorities on lieder repertoire, piano-accompanist Graham Johnson, in a triumphant partnership. The first release, Die Schöne Müllerin, was Schubert’s first complete song cycle, composed at the age of just 26. The work requires the singer to draw upon a range of moods, from raw emotional turmoil and unpredictability, to introspection and ultimately resignation. Maltman states that the work requires a “certain vulnerability” in its portrayal of the lovelorn young miller, and to achieve this, he and Johnson chose to transpose several of the songs back up to the outer reaches of the baritone range, closer to that of the tenor. The duo’s decision to take the voice out of its comfort zone and embrace the tension this produces undeniably adds to the colour and characterisation which Maltman brings to the work: “These musical masterpieces present an endless pursuit and a constant re-examination.” The next release in the cycle will be Winterreise in September 2011, followed by Schwanengesang in 2012, the live performance of which was critically-applauded in the Guardian: “Maltman's pianist was Graham Johnson, whose focused, detailed playing reminded us just how far Schwanengesang redefined the role of the accompanist"
Maltman’s decision to undertake these substantial recordings as a live project was a considered choice: “the live recording experience is where the real beauty lies; the little points, the little imperfections, the emotional stress, give the performance an organic feel, a rawness. It dials everything back to the most important element – the live performance.”