Baritones dominate the discography of Franz Schubert's Die Winterreise, so it is refreshing to hear a mezzo-soprano take on this hallowed song cycle. Alice Coote and pianist Julius Drake performed it to critical acclaim at Wigmore Hall on two evenings in January 2012, and this live recording captures both their compelling interpretations and, one may assume from the near-perfect silence in the hall, the rapt attention of the audience. Coote's voice is wonderfully rich and lovely but always controlled in tone, and her diction is absolutely clear, while Drake provides a supportive but somewhat muted accompaniment. This Winterreise may not be the ultimate one for Schubert fans, who have numerous excellent versions to choose from and who may be biased from usually hearing male voices. But it is worth having for Coote's concentrated expression and powerful presence, and her artistry is equal to the task of communicating Schubert's emotionally isolated and grim music. The audio has a wide dynamic range, so a fairly high-volume setting is required to hear some of the softer passages, especially in the occasionally recessed sound of the piano.
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AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
|Winterreise, D. 911|