Schubert’s Winterreise performed by Matthias Goerne and Markus Hinterhäuser

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COMPOSERS: Schubert
LABELS: C Major
ALBUM TITLE: Schubert
WORKS: Winterreise
PERFORMER: Matthias Goerne (baritone), Markus Hinterhäuser (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: DVD: 738008; Blu-ray: 738104

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This take on Schubert’s vast, late song cycle Winterreise presents a recital against a backdrop of animations by South African artist William Kentridge, recorded in Aix-en-Provence in 2014. The stage is littered with scraps of paper, overspill from the backdrop onto which the animations are projected.

The images range from the poignant (such as the tracing of a woman’s face in the snow) to the enigmatic. Kentridge’s own memories of the work inspire some allusive, elliptical images like a goldfish in a bowl, shower heads, slogans, and a recurring image of a portly, middle-aged man walking.

The camera could have better conveyed the experience, instead of flitting indecisively between a ‘traditional’ view of the musicians, the animations, and various perspectives in between. And we see virtually nothing of the pianist until, sweat-soaked, he receives his applause at the end. Still, the performance is suffused with Goerne’s and Hinterhäuser’s peculiar rhetorical intensity and freedom. And do watch the bonus 45-minute bonus documentary, in which Hinterhäuser reminds us of the work’s universality and relevance: ‘each person carries his winter journey within himself’.

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Natasha Loges