Some of the 2nd year music students at the Faculty of Music are studying Schubert’s Winterreise, and have been looking at Wilhelm Müller’s poems upon which the song cycle is based. This term they will study Winterreise as a complete cycle, as well as individual songs, and will also examine some of its performance history.
Here’s a quick overview of some newly purchased audiovisual items the Pendlebury Library has purchased to support this course.
This concert performance DVD (DVD.A.32) offers an interpretation of Schubert’s song cycle “Winterreise” op.89 D 911 by two Finnish musicians – Baritone Jorma Hynninen and pianist Ralf Gothoni.
The concert was recorded in one of the halls of the Reidar Särestöniemi Museum in Lapland. The museum was designed by Finnish artist Reidar Särestöniemi (1925-1981) so that he could gain inspiration from the beauty of nature, the dark winter nights and the bright light of summer. His paintings, together with impressions of Lapland’s winter landscapes, provide a visual accompaniment to Schubert’s intense song writing.
In contrast, this recording of Wintereisse (DVD.A.30) is filmed in a studio, with close-ups of the musicians’ facial expressions, making it an intense musical experience. Both tenor Cristoph Prégardien and pianist Michael Gees have their own vision of the cycle. Playing together, their two vision combine in an exciting interpretation of Winterreise. Bonus features on this DVD include interviews with the musicians and behind-the-scenes footage of the studio recording process.
Our third new DVD acquisition (DVD.A.31) showcases baritone Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau performing with Alfred Brendel at the piano, recorded live at the Siemensvilla, Berlin in 1979. This DVD, produced by Arthaus Musik, includes a 56 minute documentary offering insights into how Fischer-Dieskau and Brendel rehearsed prior to their recording of Schubert’s “Winterreise”.
If you want to test your German, the accompanying booklet provides this challenge:
“Most regrettably no subtitles could be provided with this bonus film since it was virtually impossible to understand what was said in several places, thereby rendering any meaningful translation impracticable!”
If you fancy just listening, rather than watching these two new acquisitions might be worth a try.
The Britten-Pears recording (CD.K.330) tends to invoke strong emotions as one of the few Non-Germanic recordings of Winterreise. Peter Pears’ distinct nasal voice has been sometimes described as more whining than heartfelt, but he matches Benjamin Britten‘s great performance with his superb phrasing and heartrending tone. Recorded as part of the Decca label’s “Legends” series, this recording was produced by John Culshaw in October 1963.
This recording (CD.K.328) is a performance by tenor Ian Bostridge, accompanied by pianist Leif Ove Andsnes, recorded in 2004. The Bostridge-Andsnes team has produced what some say is a controversial interpretation of Winterreise. Program notes tell us that Bostridge sings Schubert’s grim cycle with a desparate dramatic intensity of a frozen winter’s journey, although some consider Bostridge’s staccato dramatics more an acting than a singing performance.
Finally, in the midst of very snowy weather in the USA, here’s choreographer and dancer Bill T. Jones talking on Seattle radio KUOW about his personal memories of Winterreise, memories of his father and what the music means to him.
Don’t forget – All audiovisual items at the Pendlebury Library can be borrowed on a one-day loan (although if you borrow on a Friday, you can have them until Monday!)