Ivan Hewett, The Telegraph
Iestyn Davies is the counter-tenor of the moment, with good reason. Thanks to the riveting emotional truth of his singing, he’s brought the high falsetto male voice down to earth, tearing it away from its usual connotations of lofty Baroque operatic heroes and Shakespearean sprites of androgynous sexuality.
But Schubert’s Die Schöne Müllerin might seem to be a bridge too far. It’s the archetypal romantic song-cycle, recorded by so many great singers of the past century: Fritz Wunderlich, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Hermann Prey. The sad tale of the itinerant farmhand who falls for the miller’s daughter and pines away when she rejects him is rooted in the earthy reality of brooks, meadows and hearty dinners around a big farm table. That tinge of the other-worldly that the counter-tenor voice brings would surely be out of place.
Davies put any misgivings to rest – almost. He and pianist Julius Drake made it clear from the beginning that this wasn’t going to be a Schöne Müllerin-lite, adapted to the lighter timbre of the counter-tenor voice. The more intense songs were burningly hot. Impatience practically tripped over itself in its hurry, and singer and pianist tore into Jealousy and Pride with reckless fury. In The Beloved Colour, Davies gave the singer’s realisation that the girl really prefers the bold hunter a despairing bitterness that was startling.