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19.10.07

Getting Ready for Winter Traveling

Schubert, Winterreise
available at Amazon
Gerhaher / Huber
available at Amazon
Bostridge / Andsnes
available at Amazon
Fischer-Dieskau / Demus
available at Amazon
Fischer-Dieskau / Moore
available at Amazon
Pears / Britten
available at Amazon
Quasthoff / Spencer
available at Amazon
Hotter / Moore
available at Amazon
Goerne / Brendel
available at Amazon
Bostridge / Drake (dir. David Alden)
available at Amazon
Brigitte Fassbaender (dir. Petr Weigl)
This weekend, bass-baritone François Loup and pianist Santiago Rodriguez, both on the University of Maryland music faculty, will present a multimedia version of Schubert's grim, gorgeous song cycle Winterreise (poetry by Wilhelm Müller). The music will be performed with, as a backdrop, a series of projected images of the paintings of German Romantic painter Caspar David Friedrich. The match is a good one, as Friedrich's visual vocabulary is the counterpart of the poetry so beloved by Schubert. In particular, Friedrich's Winter Landscapes could be depictions of the story of this song cycle. There are two performances scheduled, tonight (October 19, 8 pm) and Sunday afternoon (October 21, 3 pm), at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center in College Park. Before each concert, Peter Beicken, a professor of Germanic Studies, will give a pre-concert lecture (tonight, 6:45 pm; Sunday, 1:45 pm) on the cycle in the context of the Romantic period (Leah M. Smith Lecture Hall, Room 2200).

With this event on the horizon, it is as good a time as any to pull out your recordings of Winterreise and listen to your favorites. As a big fan of the strange, wondrous voice of Ian Bostridge, I have already recommended his Schubert discs with Leif Ove Andsnes for EMI. While Jens has been pretty adamant about not being swayed by their Winterreise (a little rushed at 69:27), it still charms me from time to time. However, in my opinion, this is a baritone's cycle, something about the sparing accompaniment and the darkness of the mood works best with a lower voice. (As Jens put it, the Pears and Britten version is worthy mostly for the piano playing.) I grew up on Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and Gerald Moore, but I have come to admire the versions shown at right (some of them because of suggestions from Jens), most recently the Gerhaher disc, at a more expansive 77:59), which at less than $7 from Amazon is an absolute steal.

Last year, I saw Schubert's manuscript for Winterreise at the Pierpont Morgan Library, and it is a piece that continues to fascinate well beyond its concert life. Also shown are two intriguing film adaptations of the cycle: Petr Weigl and Brigitte Fassbaender (previously reviewed here at Ionarts) and a recent release with Ian Bostridge, directed by David Alden, still under consideration.

3 comments:

jfl said...

"However, in my opinion, this is a baritone's cycle"

In yours, and everyone else's, except tenors who do the cycle. :-)

I just got the score "Fuer sehr tiefe Stimme" - so I can finally croak along with the two Hotter accounts that are actually that low.

kishnevi said...

And there is also the Fassbaender CD, which you ought to have mentioned if only because the CD art is a Friedrich painting. And as a mezzo, she can fit into your low voice category.

jfl said...

There must be more than half a dozen recordings with female voices - which is surprising, given how it just doesn't come across well. Except, you might say, with Fassbaender and Lotte Lehmann. And Stutzmann is surprisingly excellent. (Also "low voice", if you wish, K.)

But the Abramowitschs, Ludwigs, M.Prices, Shirais are questionable efforts. And love as I do Christine Schaefer, her WR is just not doing it for me.