As Franz Schubert's penultimate song cycle, Die Winterreise stands as one of the most compelling and poignant of his late works, perhaps even more than the posthumously assembled Schwanengesang, and it has long been a supreme challenge for singers of lieder because of its stark scene painting and painful moods. Baritone Florian Boesch and pianist Malcolm Martineau venture into the depths of Schubert's melancholic and disturbing expressions and present a set that is flexible in phrasing and spontaneous in feeling, and they clearly demonstrate that they have internalized each of these emotionally demanding songs. This is not an especially disciplined reading, and Boesch's interpretations are a little unnerving in their exposed feelings and sudden mood swings, so this Winterreise is well-suited to listeners who want a dangerously Romantic and slightly wild rendition. Martineau is an alert accompanist who tracks Boesch's changes of tempo and rhythm with little hesitation, though at times it feels as if the two allowed each other a degree of impetuosity to shake up the proceedings. In the end, the risks they took give the music a psychological unsteadiness that works well with the gloomy and grief-stricken texts. The reproduction is quite clear and balanced, and the sound is reasonably dry, so neither performer's placement is too forward nor are they softened by resonant acoustics.
Schubert: Winterreise Review
by Blair Sanderson