Schubert: Winterreise

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3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Schubert
LABELS: Oehms
ALBUM TITLE: Schubert
WORKS: Winterreise
PERFORMER: Roman Trekel (baritone), Oliver Pohl (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: OC 810

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Eleven years ago, Roman Trekel’s Winterreise, accompanied by Ulrich Eisenlohr, kicked off Naxos’s Deutsche Schubert-Lied Edition. Now, Trekel returns to Schubert’s cycle with a more cultivated, patrician tone of voice and at a brisker pace (this new recording is all of ten minutes shorter). The inexorable and driven impetus of this icy journey of the soul is emphasised, and Oliver Pohl’s piano playing is more fluent than Eisenlohr’s. But all this is at the expense of the more immediately vivid detail of Trekel’s first encounter. Trekel’s interpretation remains essentially unchanged. His is not a Winterreise weighed down by angst or pierced with the pain of unbearable longing and loss. He doesn’t enter the music’s imaginative imagery deeply, and invariably stops short of pushing his voice through the pain. At times, in both recordings, we do feel a little emotionally short-changed. Altogether, this is a pleasing, intelligent reading from a cultivated and well-integrated baritone. But if you want more than this (and you should), then try Christian Gerhaher (on Arte Nova) or Matthias Goerne with Alfred Brendel (Philips) – or, best of all, return to the benchmark best of Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau’s ten, ever-exploratory and self-challenging recordings: the 1971 one with Gerald Moore. Hilary Finch