Schubert: Winterreise

Our rating 
2.0 out of 5 star rating 2.0

COMPOSERS: Schubert
LABELS: Forlane
WORKS: Winterreise
PERFORMER: Margaret Price (soprano)Thomas Dewey (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 16769
The Schubert bicentenary last year brought a wealth of varyingly excellent Winterreises, none better than Matthias Goerne’s shockingly dramatic account, which set a new standard in recordings of the cycle. It’s easy to see, then, why Forlane waited to release this oddity.

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It isn’t Margaret Price’s sex that is the problem; Brigitte Fassbaender and Christa Ludwig have, after all, recorded the work effectively. It’s her voice. That gorgeous, warm, voluptuous tone is neither what it was (and should be remembered as), nor convincingly that of a tortured traveller on the brink of total mental breakdown. Its top has thinned to an almost wavering degree, and the precision with which she enunciates consonants is painfully strained. There’s not much scope then, for interpretation, and the result is at best bland and meaningless, with scarcely an inkling of character or suffering or madness.

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Thomas Dewey does what he can to evoke some drama, some atmosphere, and is admirably supportive of Price’s fading voice and matronly manner, but he is inclined to ponderousness. Anyway, no pianist can carry Winterreise alone. A depressing disc for all the wrong reasons. Claire Wrathall