Schubert: Winterreise

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

LABELS: Philips
WORKS: Winterreise
PERFORMER: Wolfgang Holzmair (baritone); Imogen Cooper (piano)
The Hyperion Schubert Edition goes from strength to strength. Johnson has decided on an original presentation of Die schöne Müllerin. Since Müller’s poetic cycle contained more poems than Schubert chose to set, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau finally appears in this series as the reader of six of these poems which weave through the musical framework, adding a new perspective. Bostridge has an open, fresh sound: a truly lyrical tenor with keen intelligence and the textural integrity of a natural Lieder singer. He conveys the vulnerability and painfully obsessive nature of the youth, and creates an immediacy of emotion in each song. From the early reflective ‘Halt!’, the energy of ‘Mein!’, through the poignant ‘Pause’ and the half-crazed rambling of ‘Eifersucht und Stolz’, to the haunting and haunted ‘Der Müller und der Bach’ – all are extraordinarily potent. Johnson’s interpretation, expressing the delicate nuances of the piano writing, and his often understated but empathetic accompaniment, is sheer bliss.


The Winterreise from Holzmair does not have the depth of interpretation, nor the consistent vocal timbre which one would expect from this gifted baritone. Though there are some superb moments, with beautiful sweeps of his warm, pliant sound in ‘Irrlicht’, ‘Letzte Hoffnung’ and ‘Die Nebensonnen’, there is an overall feeling that the ravages of life and time delineated in his cycle are only superficially approached. Cooper’s piano accompaniment provides a wonderfully rich underpinning of the vocal lines. Occasionally, it is over-pedalled, but she is an intense and highly articulate partner in this repertoire.