Consummation. This is what the piano music of Arnold Schönberg (1874-1951) and Franz Schubert (1979-1828) have in common, the bridge that Thomas Larcher brings to this welcoming solo recital, his first for ECM. To underscore this point, he shuffles Schönberg’s Klavierstücke op. 11 with Schubert’s posthumous Klavierstücke D 946. By turns halting and didactic, the opening pairing opens into the fresh air of Schubert’s precisely syncopated revelry. The contrasts between the two composers are obvious to the ear, but to the heart Schönberg is an extended exhalation to Schubert’s inhalation. Where Schönberg plots slow, jagged caverns, Schubert runs furtively above ground in the sunshine. Yet both seem so urgent to tell their stories, offering lifelong journeys from relatively young minds.
Pentaèdre the wind quintet whose Così: Un opéra muet, a transcription of selections from Così fan tutte, was one of the most delightful albums of 2007 is joined by accordionist Joseph Petric in its release of a chamber version of Winterreise. In this inspired arrangement, the group's oboist Normand Forget expands the colors of a traditional wind quintet by having an oboe d'amore substitute for the oboe, and having the flute, clarinet, and horn double other instruments.
Schubert's Winterreise offers what likely is the darkest, most tormented, aesthetically and emotionally compelling journey in the repertoire of Romantic song-cycles. Any singer who takes it on (most often baritones, but frequently tenors and occasionally a female voice) must make the effort to immerse himself in Wilhelm Müller's poetry and Schubert's magnificently moody, unreservedly honest representation of its darkly human sentiment.
Following their exceptional Winterreise and now this equally fine Die schone Mullerin, tenor Mark Padmore and pianist Paul Lewis may be on their way to cornering the Schubert Lieder franchise for the foreseeable future. Besides being the most lyrically beautiful modern rendition of this oft-recorded cycle, the recording is a model of clear, natural presentation of voice and piano in a very complementary acoustic.
The darkly lit cover photo may convey some of the desolation of Franz Schubert's Schwanengesang, but to appreciate the full range of emotions of this posthumous song cycle – which shift from the hopeful passion of Liebesbotschaft and the giddiness of Frühlingssehnsucht to the heartbreak of Ihr Bild and the horror of Der Doppelgänger – listen to this exceptional Harmonia Mundi release by tenor Mark Padmore and his accompanist, pianist Paul Lewis.
In the autumn of 2005 Hyperion released their complete Schubert song edition, some 18 years after they started recording. The composition of these songs spanned the same number of years. Between Lebenstraum … gesang in c”, a fragment dating from 1810 when he was thirteen and Der Taubenpost written a few weeks before his death late in 1828, Schubert set over 700 texts, mostly solo songs but also part songs and for ensemble. Almost all were with piano accompaniment. Everything that has survived is included
In nearly every respect this is outstanding. The Rondo brillant and the Fantasie, both written for the virtuoso duo of Karl von Bocklet and Josef Slawik, can sound as if Schubert were striving for a brilliant, flashy style, foreign to his nature. Both are in places uncomfortable to play (when first published, the Fantasie’s violin part was simplified), but you would never guess this from Faust’s and Melnikov’s performance; they both nonchalantly toss off any problem passages as though child’s play. The Fantasie’s finale and the Rondo brillant are irresistibly lively and spirited, and this duo’s technical finesse extends to more poetic episodes – Melnikov’s tremolo at the start of the Fantasie shimmers delicately, while the filigree passagework in the last of the variations that form the Fantasie’s centrepiece have a delightful poise and sense of ease.
Franz Schubert´s “Winterreise” engages with its audience in a new and unexpected form: in a creative encounter with Schubert’s masterpiece.