The fortepiano used on this recording was made in Vienna by Conrad Graf around 1835, just a few years after Schubert wrote "Winterreise," and this "original instrument" version offers insights into the work that aren't immediately evident when a modern instrument is used. The fortepiano is full and resonant in its lower register, but its higher register is mellower and less bright than that of a modern piano, and its four pedals allow unusual subtlety in coloring the sound. Its less brilliant tone quality is ideally suited to the dark moods of the cycle. The difference between this and a modern instrument is most pronounced in songs like "Der Lindenbaum," which feature the fortepiano in its higher reaches, where the sound is almost harpsichord-like. Penelope Crawford plays with sensitivity, warmth, and a real mastery of the instrument's expressive possibilities. Bass baritone Max van Egmond was 65 when he made this recording, and while he brings nearly half a century of professional experience to the performance, his voice has the bloom and vigor of a singer half his age. His rock-solid technique and his interpretive wisdom make every song in this treacherous cycle a pleasure. The fortepiano's ability to produce a distinctively hollow timbre and van Egmond's nuanced performance make the final song, "Der Leiermann," truly chilling. Van Egmond's and Crawford's "Winterreise" is easily one of finest available on disc.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Eddins
|Winterreise, song cycle for voice & piano, D. 911 (Op. 89)|