We waited, and the wait was long. Now, following his discs of Die schöne Müllerin, Schwanengesang, compilations and recitals – and 18 years after his fine recording of Winterreise with Andreas Staier – we finally have Prégardien’s Winterreise with Michael Gees. It is well worth the wait.
This is the voice of an older Prégardien: he has the grey hair for which Schubert’s lonely wanderer longs. But the voice is in superb form, sensing out the underlying pulse and the minutest inflections of longing, delight, determination and soul-weariness within each lithe, live line of melody. Accompanying, Michael Gees has freshly reconsidered so much detail, too – possibly, it seems to me, with an ear to Schubert’s late piano music.
In both voice and piano there is the perfect fusion of raw immediacy and a broader overview, indicated by the calm delivery of the first song’s tread. This fusion, and sense of long-term structure, gives the performance a visionary quality that only the very best achieve. Listen to the weightlessness of that elusive dream of spring; the light trot behind the horn calls of ‘Die Post’; the wind blowing through the feathers of ‘Die Krähe’.
The clarity of the recording, with its clean, natural sound, matches that of the verbal enunciation and fingerwork. And the performance can also be watched, complete with interviews, in its DVD version (CC 72595).