Most performances of Franz Schubert's song cycle Winterreise are presented in the original German language of Wilhelm Müller's poems, so this version in an English translation by Jeremy Sams may come as a surprise, if not a shock. Something of the newness or strangeness listeners must have experienced when Schubert first played Winterreise at a Schubertiade in 1827 comes across in this performance by baritone Roderick Williams and pianist Christopher Glynn. Indeed, Winter Journey feels a bit unfamiliar and a little disconcerting in modern English, not least because the German words and their rich associations have been swapped out for new texts and meanings, but also because Williams' interpretation has a frankness and raw power that are immediately understood, precluding any distancing effect that familiar words might have brought. Among the many recordings of Winterreise that appear every year, few really offer any distinctive features or novelty to justify their place in a crowded market, but this 2018 Signum Classics release deserves to be heard, if not primarily for Williams' and Glynn's exceptional musicianship, then for the rare opportunity it presents English-speaking listeners to hear this masterpiece in a new light.
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AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson