This version of Winterreise with baritone Konrad Jarnot and pianist Alexander Schmalcz adds up to somewhat less than the sum of its parts. Jarnot has a gorgeous lyric baritone that can be glowing and limpid in its upper reaches, and songs like "Gute Nacht" and "Auf dem Flusse" that lie mostly high in his voice are wrenchingly poignant. His transition into his head voice is seamless and his shapely phrasing is stellar. He doesn't quite have the range to make the lower notes ring, so the sections of songs that are low-lying are less effective. He is most persuasive in the gentler songs; in those that require the greatest volume, his voice can sound forced and his intonation loses focus. Those things being said, though, for the most part it's a beautifully nuanced performance, and the effortless poetry of his interpretations is moving and completely convincing. Schmalcz provides an exceptionally thoughtful and fluid accompaniment, with an especially subtle application of rubato. In the more mournful songs, he plays the ornaments just a little on the slow side, which beautifully underlines the protagonist's resignation and lassitude. The whole cycle is not substantially slower than the average performance, but it seems long; around the middle of the piece the tempos sometimes feel slack and there is a sense that things are dragging. This is a Winterreise that is full of marvelous felicities, but Jarnot and Schmalcz don't quite nail it. The listener is left with the impression that they may well have a great Winterreise in them and that it would be worth hearing them revisit it after it has had a chance to sink more deeply into their bones. Oehms Classics' sound is very fine: clean, detailed, and nicely present.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Eddins