Schubert's Winterreise: a quick guide to essential recordings

Gramophone Fri 7th July 2017

Three highly recommended recordings: a modern choice, a classic and a hidden gem

Winterreise was dubbed by Schubert ‘a cycle of spine-chilling [schauerliche] Lieder’. What so shocked the composer’s friends when he sang through the first 12 songs, and still shocks today, is the starkness and almost minimalistic bareness of the writing, and the obsessive exploration of a mind veering between delusion, wry, mocking self-awareness and nihilistic despair. Here are three outstanding traversals of Schubert's emotionally draining winter's journey.

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The Modern Choice

Jonas Kaufmann; Helmut Deutsch (Sony Classical)

'Kaufmann’s combination of vocal beauty and verbal sensitivity (his diction always a model), and the fastidiously textured and coloured playing of Helmut Deutsch, make this new recording an important addition to the vast Winterreise discography...'

Read the full review in the Reviews Database

 

The Classic Choice

Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau; Jörg Demus (DG)

'The whole effect is of a pair communing with each other and stating the sad, distraught message of Schubert's bleak work in terms of a personal message to the listener in the home...'

Read the full review in the Reviews Database

 

The Hidden Gem

Alice Coote; Julius Drake (Wigmore Hall Live)

'Few Winterreises enjoy Coote’s colouristic range. She has a soprano’s brightness in the upper reaches but welcome mezzo weight that she effectively uses to convey the abrupt arrival of a cold front...'

Read the full review in the Reviews Database

 

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