«Releasing yet another recording of Die schöne Müllerin might seem a trifle unnecessary to some. After all, what profound insights can one expect from a performance that joins literally hundreds of others in an already saturated catalogue? And yet, despite the many fine recordings of the work, many questions about the performance of this hallowed repertoire remain unanswered. Is the score, for example, a definitive indication of exactly which notes are to be played? Or is it instead a more flexible entity, a ‘script’ of gestures that requires personal interpretation? Are 21 st-century performers correct in assuming that flexibility of tempo, unless expressly sanctioned by the composer, is to be eschewed? How does one truly bring to life the textual variety in the strophic song?
Our answers to these and other interpretive questions can be summarized as follows. First and foremost, we aimed for a more rhetorical, ‘live-for-the-moment’ approach to the text, especially in the strophic songs. Moreover, to help characterize these small-scale events, we treated tempo flexibility as a perfectly viable expressive device. We also opted in favor of adding certain improvised embellishments, including freely applied arpeggiation in the piano. Finally, we decided to use a modern replica of an early 19 th century piano, with its vast spectrum of color and articulation.
When all is said and done, we hope that our reading may encourage others to rediscover the freshness, excitement, and mercurial energy that would surely have characterized early performances of this wonderful repertoire.»
Kristian Bezuidenhout, Jan Kobow