Baritone Peter Mattei has been known mostly for operatic appearances, and somewhat in choral music. You might not expect him to excel in lieder, or you might expect him to give operatically inflected performances of art song. As it happens, none of these cautions apply, although Mattei does certainly give dramatic readings of Schubert's emotionally grim song cycle, he doesn't overflow beyond the intimate boundaries of the songs. Indeed, one of the most attractive features of this cycle is that the range, both physical and expressive, of Die Winterreise, D. 911, is that Mattei's voice seems perfectly matched to it: he is relaxed, is easily on top of small details, and gives a sense, honed by live performances, of inhabiting the song cycle's wandering protagonist. His voice is unusually attractive and well preserved; Mattei came on the scene in the early 1990s, and his career has developed slowly but steadily since then, carefully considering the treatment of the singer's voice. One distinctive feature of this recording is the highly restrained work of accompanist Lars David Nilsson. You might find it a plus: he gives room for Mattei's subtly shaped lines, or you might find that it drains life from the music, or a bit of both. Sample the intense "Auf dem Flusse," where the breaking of the ice/emergence of strong emotion elicits barely a rumble from the pianist. BIS contributes excellent sound from a studio in Mattei's hometown of Piteå in northern Sweden. A significant and committed Winterreise.
AllMusic Review by James Manheim