Tenor Ian Bostridge has already recorded Schubert's song cycle Winterreise, D. 911, twice, and he has described his relationship with the cycle as an obsession. This third attempt might easily have turned into an overthought disaster, but it most assuredly does not: this is a major Winterreise. There are several major virtues in its favor. Bostridge and Thomas Adès, a wonderful accompanist not at all added simply for his celebrity value, had performed the cycle live for several years before this live version from Wigmore Hall, appeared in 2019. Adès responds confidently to the small details Bostridge has teased out of the music. In his mid-50s, Bostridge's voice has acquired a burnished sound that serves him especially well in Schubert's lower register. Sample the second strain of Gefrorne Tränen with its repeated low C, and you'll find a more natural sound than in other tenor versions, including Bostridge's own. Most important of all is the care Bostridge has lavished on every phrase; and this is all without getting lost in the details. He applies plenty of tempo rubato to bring out individual ideas in the text, and at several points (including the final Der Leiermann) really takes his time, but the basic strophic structure of the songs, and the varied parallelism Schubert superimposes on it, is never lost. Pentatone's live sound is impressive, and this is a must-have Winterreise and a career-making album for Bostridge.
AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|Winterreise, Op. 89, D911|