Sunday, 22 March 2009

248. Franz Schubert - Winterreise (1827)


Title: Die Schone Mullerin, Winterreise, Schwanengesang
Performers: Peter Schreier, Andras Schiff.
Year: 1991
Length: 71 minutes


This is Schubert's most painful song cycle and also one of the hardest ones to listen to. It requires some habituation in order to really sink in. When I first heard it many years ago I profoundly disliked it. But you don't really like desolation as a child.

As time has gone on, each time I listen to it I like it a little bit more. The same has happened with most of Schubert's lieds, but none more so than Winterreise. Schubert is crossing a deep depression at this stage in his life, and it shows.

When the listener is able to do the epistemic shift from boring and desolate to beautiful desolation is when this album clicks in. It might take 100 listens but you get there, in this way it is a truly challenging set of songs to the listener, but one which pays off in the end.

Final Grade



From Wikipedia:

In his introduction to the Peters Edition (with the critical revisions of Max Friedländer), Professor Max Müller, son of the poet, remarks that Schubert's two song-cycles have a dramatic effect not unlike that of a full-scale tragic opera, particularly when performed by great singers such as Jenny Lind (Die schöne Müllerin) or Julius Stockhausen (Winterreise). Like Die schöne Müllerin, Schubert's Winterreise is not merely a collection of songs upon a single theme (lost or unrequited love) but is in effect one single dramatic monologue, lasting up to an hour in performance. Although some individual songs are sometimes included separately in recitals (e.g. Gute Nacht, Der Lindenbaum and Der Leiermann), it is a work which is usually presented in its entirety. The intensity and the emotional inflexions of the poetry are carefully built up to express the sorrows of the lover, and are developed to an almost pathological degree from the first to the last note. It has been claimed that it would be impossible to write this work without having experienced similar emotions in reality.

Gute Nacht with Ian Bostridge:

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