Festival Vancouver
Alcon Schubert Plus Series
Die schone Mullerin

Dates: 11 August 2003 at 11.00
: First Baptist Church

Reviewer: Elizabeth Paterson






Russel Braun, baritone; Carolyn Maule, piano

Schubert Song Circle: Alexandra Liebich-Tait, soprano;  Jonathan Liebich, baritone; Karen Lee-Mortang, piano.

I have never heard Schubert's Die schone Mullerin sung better. Russell Braun infused this piece with so much sorrow there were more than a few damp eyes in the audience, and  it was hard afterwards to return to the mundane.

Braun has a strong, beautifully-controlled voice in all dynamic ranges. The Master miller's words were stentorian, loud enough to be heard over a mill wheel yet full and round. His voice can also die away to almost nothing and still be heard clearly.

Braun pays enormous attention to detail - each note seems chosen and polished and his diction was crystalline. Add his gift for characterization and he has presented his audience with a young miller with attitude as well as pathos.

Carolyn Maule at the piano was as accomplished and sensitive in drawing out the meaning and images of verse and music. With this music, partnership between voice and piano is all important. On Monday, musical understanding and sympathy were strikingly in evidence.





An otherwise perfect morning was spoiled by the noise outside of an ubiquitous dump truck which apparently cannot be persuaded to change its schedule. Ambulance sirens also marred the performance. Perhaps in future Festival Vancouver will be able to find another venue which comes closer to matching the calibre of the performers.

The Schubert Song Circle, rather than singing more lieder, presented the premier of a work by David McIntyre, "Because of Love - Five Songs", commissioned by Festival Vancouver. Bravo! and congratulations to the Festival for commissioning and performing new work.

The piece was a setting of some of Robin Skelton's love poems first published in the seventies. They have a limpid quality full of space and sadness which was well expressed by the music. Alexandra Liebich-Tait and Jonathan Liebich, like Russell Braun and Carolyn Maule a married couple brought just the right sense of passion under tight restraint.

This programme will be broadcast by Radio Canada, La Chaine Culturelle on Les Lieux qui chantent.  Check the CBC/Radio Canada listings for dates and times.

2003, Elizabeth Paterson