Top 10 song-cycles (with piano)

Beethoven may have invented the song-cycle but Schubert raised it to extraordinary heights of expression and beauty

Beethoven, with his An die ferne Geliebte, may have invented the concept of the song-cycle (a group of songs linked by a theme, and usually a poet, that are performed as a sequence without a break), but the composer who raised it to extraordinary heights of expression and beauty was Schubert. Here are some of the greatest of all song-cycles with piano accompaniment in some of the finest recordings ever made.

No 1

Beethoven: An die ferne Geliebte

Matthias Goerne bar Alfred Brendel pf

'The Beethoven cycle moves in a steady progress not into the usual triumphant...' Read review

 

No 2

Schubert: Die schöne Müllerin

Werner Güra ten Jan Schultsz pf

'An absolutely enthralling account of the cycle on virtually every count...' Read review

 

No 3

Schubert: Winterreise

Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau bar Jörg Demus pf

'On the verge of his fifth decade, the singer was in his absolute prime - and it shows. Indeed listening...' Read review

 

No 4

Schumann: Dichterliebe

Ian Bostridge ten Julius Drake pf

'It would be difficult to overpraise this issue given its manifold revelations concerning the setting of...' Read review

 

No 5

Fauré: La bonne chanson

Anne Sofie von Otter mez Bengt Forsberg pf

'She has one of the most beautiful voices of our time and is also one of...' Read review

 

No 6

Mussorgsky: Songs and Dances of Death

Gerald Finley bar Julius Drake pf

'Gerald Finley can do no wrong at present, and this Wigmore Hall Live offering...' Read review

 

No 7

Britten: Songs and Proverbs of William Blake

Gerald Finley bar Julius Drake pf

'Sternly, even fiercely standing its ground, the...' Read review

 

No 8

Mahler: Kindertotenlieder

Christianne Stotijn mez Joseph Breinl pf

'The soul of the disc is Mahler’s Kindertotenlieder in one of the more convincing...' Read review

 

No 9

Messiaen: Harawi

Hetna Regitza Bruun sop Kristoffer Hyldig pf

'Naxos’s recording equally reveals that Kristoffer Hyldig is a fine new...' Read review

 

No 10

Vaughan Williams: Songs of Travel

Dietrich Henschel bar Fritz Schwinghammer pf

'The first German baritone to record Vaughan...' Read review

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