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Göran Forsling
MusicWeb International, December 2011

Jan Kobow’s Müllerin has been my favourite for some years, but here is a version that challenges his hegemony. They have a lot in common, though Kobow is accompanied by a fortepiano. A bonus is also the inclusion of the rarely heard Auf dem Strom with excellent horn playing by Ab Koster. © MusicWeb International



Robert A Moore
American Record Guide, January 2011

Behle again sings with stylish assurance and a depth of understanding. Behle sings in a fresh and earnest manner with great rhythmic precision and clear articulation of moving passages. Horn player Koster and pianist Bjelland both supply strong and effective collaboration. Vibrant recorded sound, first-rate accompaniment, and splendid singing make this a triumphant release.

To read the complete review, please visit American Record Guide online.



Drew Minter
Opera News, January 2011

With his first lieder album a couple of seasons back, light-lyric tenor Daniel Behle was justly applauded in these pages as a superb, sensitive recitalist. With this disc of Schubert’s beloved cycle, Behle again proves himself to be a detailed song interpreter who, with a minimum of inserted singer ego, puts the fine line of his lovely instrument completely at a great composer’s service. Behle’s philosophy is quoted in the program booklet: “[In Schubert’s lieder,] contrasts must be detected within the music, not appended…One can trust the music.” It’s a refreshing outlook, and one that the singer respects.

The chief impression given by Behle is one of precision, both musically and vocally. His voice keeps a focused pitch from top to bottom; whether at pianissimo or at top volume in his highest notes (as in his cries of “Ade!” in “Die böse Farbe”), Behle never wobbles or creates any discomfort for the listener. His clean vocalism makes a specialty of mezza voce dynamics, and the songs in which the piano’s bass register stays high, such as “Morgengruss” and “Tränenregen,” bring out his delicacy most effectively. Behle’s faithfulness of articulation makes every grace note and embellishment a special event, and he is matched in these details by the graceful pianism of Sveinung Bjelland. The recording’s producer, Martin Sauer, deserves a mention for perfectly capturing the musicians’ intimacy, maintaining warmth on the group sound without ever turning the room into an echo chamber. 

An indication of this recital’s smarts is the inclusion at cycle’s end of the song with horn “Auf dem Strom.” The miller, upon losing his miller girl to a huntsman, has just been serenaded in the key of E major by the stream that led him to her originally. “Auf dem Strom” continues the journey in that same key out to sea, where the singer hopes to gain another glimpse of the lost beloved. Not only is it stunningly performed by the three musicians, but it seems to raise this well-known cycle’s sights over the horizon into the realm of the eternal.



Burton Rothleder
Fanfare, January 2011

the Behle/Bjelland disc offers one of Schubert’s autumnal songs, poet Ludwig Rellstab’s Auf den Strom (On the River), scored for voice, piano, and horn. This work prefigures Schubert’s more familiar, and apparently final, composition, Der Hirt auf dem Felsen, scored for voice, piano, and clarinet. These compositions extend the voice-plus-piano song form to that of voice-plus-chamber-group. This was more fully developed from its inchoate Schubert base by Arnold Schoenberg about 75 years later (e.g., the String Quartet No. 2, Ode to Napoleon, and Pierrot Lunaire). Auf den Strom is given an especially appealing interpretation by three superb musicians, a most attractive horn sound being a bonus on top of a bonus.

German-born Daniel Behle initially studied trombone and music education before taking vocal classes taught by his mother, Renate Behle. He sings both opera and Lieder, and is a laureate of several international vocal competitions. Norwegian pianist Sveinung Bjelland studied at the Mozarteum in Salzberg and at the Hochschule der Künste in Berlin. He has since been awarded numerous prizes and has appeared as soloist with leading Norwegian orchestras. The Dutch hornist Ab Koster has played as French horn and natural horn soloist with leading orchestras and chamber groups throughout Europe.

If you prefer your Schubert Lieder to be more emotionally restrained and with only slight strophic distinctions, and if you want to add the rarely heard but most rewarding Auf den Strom to your collection, the Daniel Behle and Sveinung Bjelland disc is a good one to have as well.




Göran Forsling
MusicWeb International, December 2010

A year and a half ago I reviewed Daniel Behle’s debut recital and had only praise for it. I concluded the review thus: ‘A recording of Die schöne Müllerin is scheduled for June this year (2009). I can hardly wait for its release.’ Well, here it is and it was worth waiting for.

Behle, who studied with his mother, the dramatic soprano Renate Behle, has a beautiful, light lyrical tenor voice, suave in pianissimo, agile in faster passages and with surprisingly powerful fortes. Ungeduld (tr. 7), which he also sang on his debut disc, has all the intensity needed to express the eagerness and impatience. Tränenregen (tr. 10) is so flexible and natural in expression and Mein! (tr. 11) has true élan. But even more impressive is his restrained singing in songs like Der Neugierige (tr. 6), where his legato is so well controlled and his half-voice is ravishingly beautiful. Die liebe Farbe is sung like a caress and Trockne Blumen begins like a whisper. But it is not only the technical execution that impresses. He also has something to say about the songs, though he avoids the too explicit word-painting that has characterized Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau’s readings. Behle lets the words make impact through clear diction and unforced naturalness. In this respect he has so much in common with Jan Kobow, whose recording of this cycle has been my favourite since it was first issued. Kobow decorates the vocal line with some embellishments but not excessively so. He is also accompanied by a fortepiano which gives a crisper background. Sveinung Bjelland, playing on a modern instrument is however just as good and the only interpretative quirkiness—if that is what it is—is some quite heavy ritardandi. But this is very much a matter of personal taste and is in no way a hindrance to enjoying the music. Speeds are fastish without being rushed. I compared timings with Christian Elsner in the Naxos complete Schubert cycle and with one or two exceptions Behle was the faster, Elsner taking almost one and half minutes longer for the last song Des Baches Wiegenlied.

It was a brilliant idea to include Auf dem Strom, a very good song too rarely encountered in recital and on recordings. The main reason is the need for an extra musician, and what else can the horn-player perform, unless he plays some horn sonata? The horn part is quite testing and is not just some nice background embellishment. There is a parallel in Der Hirt auf dem Felsen where the clarinet, the voice and the piano form a chamber music trio. The mellower French horn matches well the tenor voice and Behle sings with glow and power.

The recording is spotless and with good liner-notes and the sung texts with English translations printed in the booklet this is a high-quality product. There is no shortage of good recordings of Die schöne Müllerin and if we concentrate on only tenors the list is impressive: from Aksel Schiøtz in the 1940s, via Peter Schreier, Nicolai Gedda and Ian Bostridge to Jan Kobow. This new recording has to be included among the top contenders, where also Christoph Prégardien’s recording from 2007 also is among the foremost interpreters (Challenge Classics CC72292).

Let’s hope there is more to come. Why not Dichterliebe next time? But while waiting for that issue this Müllerin should win admirers around the world.



Göran Forsling
MusicWeb International, December 2010

Recording of the Month

A year and a half ago I reviewed Daniel Behle’s debut recital and had only praise for it. I concluded the review thus: ‘A recording of Die schöne Müllerin is scheduled for June this year (2009). I can hardly wait for its release.’ Well, here it is and it was worth waiting for.

Behle, who studied with his mother, the dramatic soprano Renate Behle, has a beautiful, light lyrical tenor voice, suave in pianissimo, agile in faster passages and with surprisingly powerful fortes. Ungeduld (tr. 7), which he also sang on his debut disc, has all the intensity needed to express the eagerness and impatience. Tränenregen (tr. 10) is so flexible and natural in expression and Mein! (tr. 11) has true élan. But even more impressive is his restrained singing in songs like Der Neugierige (tr. 6), where his legato is so well controlled and his half-voice is ravishingly beautiful. Die liebe Farbe is sung like a caress and Trockne Blumen begins like a whisper. But it is not only the technical execution that impresses. He also has something to say about the songs, though he avoids the too explicit word-painting that has characterized Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau’s readings. Behle lets the words make impact through clear diction and unforced naturalness. In this respect he has so much in common with Jan Kobow, whose recording of this cycle has been my favourite since it was first issued. Kobow decorates the vocal line with some embellishments but not excessively so. He is also accompanied by a fortepiano which gives a crisper background. Sveinung Bjelland, playing on a modern instrument is however just as good and the only interpretative quirkiness—if that is what it is—is some quite heavy ritardandi. But this is very much a matter of personal taste and is in no way a hindrance to enjoying the music. Speeds are fastish without being rushed. I compared timings with Christian Elsner in the Naxos complete Schubert cycle and with one or two exceptions Behle was the faster, Elsner taking almost one and half minutes longer for the last song Des Baches Wiegenlied.

It was a brilliant idea to include Auf dem Strom, a very good song too rarely encountered in recital and on recordings. The main reason is the need for an extra musician, and what else can the horn-player perform, unless he plays some horn sonata? The horn part is quite testing and is not just some nice background embellishment. There is a parallel in Der Hirt auf dem Felsen where the clarinet, the voice and the piano form a chamber music trio. The mellower French horn matches well the tenor voice and Behle sings with glow and power.

The recording is spotless and with good liner-notes and the sung texts with English translations printed in the booklet this is a high-quality product. There is no shortage of good recordings of Die schöne Müllerin and if we concentrate on only tenors the list is impressive: from Aksel Schiøtz in the 1940s, via Peter Schreier, Nicolai Gedda and Ian Bostridge to Jan Kobow. This new recording has to be included among the top contenders, where also Christoph Prégardien’s recording from 2007 also is among the foremost interpreters (Challenge Classics CC72292).

Let’s hope there is more to come. Why not Dichterliebe next time? But while waiting for that issue this Müllerin should win admirers around the world.



Stephen Eddins
Allmusic.com, October 2010

German tenor Daniel Behle received degrees in composition and trombone at the Hamburg Conservatory and only pursued voice studies on the side, but his vocal progress was quick; within a year of his graduation in 2004, he had been accepted into the ensemble of the Vienna Volksoper. He has gone on to starring as Tamino in René Jacobs’ superb recording of Die Zauberflöte, and this recording of Die schöne Müllerin and Auf dem Strom is his second solo release. It’s easy to understand his success. His technique is absolutely secure and well supported, and his voice has both a natural sweetness and a clarion, heroic tone. Those gifts and skills are at the service of a lively and flexible musicality that makes him stand out as an artist of whom even greater things can be expected. His approach to the Schubert cycle is one of a sensitive, poetic soul, in contrast to the recklessly passionate abandon of Jonas Kaufmann’s version, which was released at about the same time. The sheer freshness and unmannered beauty of Behle’s voice are immediately apparent, as are the ease and spontaneity of his vocal production. As the songs unfold he becomes even more impressive; the extreme emotional arc of the cycle reveals the extent of his vocal versatility, the spectrum of colors he can unleash, and the honesty and depth of feeling of his interpretations. Norwegian pianist Sveinung Bjelland provides supple and strongly differentiated accompaniments; the contrast between the jauntiness of “Das Wandern” and the glistening shimmer of “Wohin?” is almost shocking. The disc also includes the too-rarely heard “Auf dem Strom,” which has a terrific obbligato part for horn; it’s one of Schubert’s most striking extended songs, and this performance featuring Dutch hornist Ab Koster is thrillingly urgent. The sound of Capriccio’s CD is clean, well-balanced, and immediate.






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