15 October 2013

AZ München, Review by Robert Braunmüller

Courage is Rewarded

“The miller’s joy is wandering, is wandering.” Or his burden? The Munich Opera Festival dispatched a star of the genre to a recital in the sold-out Prince Regent Theatre. The Slovakian tenor Pavol Breslik stands before the grand piano and rushes through the first piece of the song cycle “Die Schöne Müllerin” by Franz Schubert. The opening song from the composer is given as “Moderate tempo.” At breakneck speed, Breslik and his piano accompanist Amir Katz march through the song. Who is driving whom is initially unclear. In this manner, what is intended as pleasurably curious rambling turns into a dark foreboding, into an almost obsessive compulsion, the water turning into a sweetly dangerous threat. Katz supplies, as does the entire cycle, incredible precision, and is more than “just” one who prepares the way. He is partner and fellow player, especially as this opening is at the very least a question of bold interpretation, if not daring gamble.

Breslik’s star gleams primarily on opera stages, and very brightly indeed, while he rarely addresses himself to the Lied. Authenticity is less a question of genre than on the contrary one of principle, at any rate where Breslik’s singing is concerned. And in this manner, he took the Lied and, in the purest sense, imbued it with bel canto. Glorious timbre, clear-as-a-bell high tones, far-sighted dynamic structuring bearing an impulsivity bristling with energy all display the Wanderer before the turning point of his fervour with obsessive power. Next, the Hunter, on his entrance, is presented without whining sentimentality, but rather as heroic, virile and nonetheless fundamentally human. Breslik and Katz reveal hidden treasures in Schubert’s Lieder. Their courage is rewarded and the game is won, to the thrill of the audience.

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