"Matthias Goerne, Johnson's choice for this supreme challenge in Hyperion's Schubert Edition, has quickly built a justified reputation as a Lieder singer of uncommon thoughtfulness. His warm, companionable baritone, soft-grained and dark-toned, is consistently a pleasure to hear, marred just occasionally by a hint of throatiness at forte level. His natural, intelligent inflexion of the text and command of the long, fine-drawn legato line are immediately heard in the opening song, taken at a true walking pace, the rhythm trudging forward inexorably until the final, major-key verse, with its tender, subtly judged rubato. Goerne and Johnson also keep a proper sense of walking motion, a Schubertian gehende Bewegung, in "GefrorneRead more Tranen" and "Auf dem Flusse" — both songs can too easily become icebound. But well as Goerne builds the latter song, his relatively restrained, reflective reading does rather miss the ache of nostalgia in the major-key section (1'17") and the sudden chill of the subsequent "mein Herz" caught by, say, Goerne's erstwhile teacher, Fischer-Dieskau (in several recordings) or Peter Schreier with Andras Schiff (Decca, 5/94).
Comparisons elsewhere find Fischer-Dieskau (in his 1965 DG version with Demus) wider in his coloristic range, rawer and more engulfing in his emotional responses: his wanderer, like Schreier's, is more volatile and highly strung, more anguished in protest, closer to the edge of madness. But Goerne is as vivid as anyone in, say, the horrified realization in "Der greise Kopf- that his hair has not, after all, turned white overnight ("Doch bald ist er hinweggetaut", 102"), and he finds a bitter, incisive tone for his two songs of desperate bravado late in the cycle, "Der stiirmische Morgen" and "Mut!". Where Goerne is particularly distinctive is in moments of tenderness and compassion, as in his rueful contemplation of the sleeping villagers in "Im Dorfe", and in the extraordinary, self-communing inwardness of the final section of "Fralingstraum", "Das Wirtshaus" and "Die Nebensonnen" — the first two mesmerically sustained at the slowest possible tempo. Goerne's wanderer suggests less a descent into madness than a gradual withdrawal into numb reverie.
Johnson's unfailingly attentive playing is full of individual insights: his impulsive, capricious rubato and pointing of Schubert's eerie onomatopoeic effects in "Die Wetterfahne", for instance; the unusual clarity of the triplets in "Erstarrung" and "Der Lindenbaum"; the exquisitely delicate tolling octaves in the closing section of "Frühlingstraum"; the buoyant lift to the dotted rhythms at the start of "Die Post"; or the subtle Viennese lilt he imparts to "Tauschung". As ever, too, he has an unerring ear for hidden melodic strands in the middle and lower texture, and an acute sensitivity to harmonic ebb and flow. While I would still go for Fischer-Dieskau, Schreier and, in some moods, Brigitte Fassbaender (EMI, 7/90) above all in this inexhaustible work, Goerne's elegiac, introspective and beautifully sung reading is an appreciable achievement — a very good Winterreise that may one day become a great one."
-- Gramophone [1/1998, reviewing the original release] Read less
Works on This Recording
Winterreise, D 911/Op. 89by Franz Schubert
Matthias Goerne (Baritone),
Graham Johnson (Piano)
Period: Romantic Written: 1827; Vienna, Austria Date of Recording: 08/1996 Length: 74 Minutes 8 Secs.