Music review: Florian Boesch & Malcolm Martineau

Hearing Schubert's Die schöne Müllerin the morning after the night before, when the EIF presented Hans Zender's contemporary take on Schubert, seemed initially oddly conventional.

Star rating: *****

Venue: Queen’s Hall

However, there was nothing at all run-of-the-mill – no pun intended – about the performance from Florian Boesch and Malcolm Martineau either.

Singer and pianist of incomparable artistry, in just the right space for the sincere intimacy of Boesch’s warm baritone, they performed the whole cycle without break or anything else before or after it yesterday. It made for a much shorter Queen’s Hall recital than usual, but not one that anyone could have left feeling short-changed. In the 20 songs of the cycle, Boesch and Martineau paced Müller’s texts in such a way that there was shape and cohesion to what is a collection of poems telling of a young man’s love for the miller’s daughter, his rival in that love, and drowning in the brook which led him to the mill in the first place.

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With nuanced word painting of the texts, in soft, yet distinctly clear German, the performance conceptualised the visual images of the scenes, whether the recurring babbling brook or the agonising emotions around the colour green.