This is not the kind of performance which you can put on quietly in the background and whistle along to the melodies while reading the daily news. When you have an hour of free-time, tune out everybody and everything, turn the volume all the way up, sit back and get ready to be walked through a bizarre constellation. The quiet moments exist within a vacuum. The loud movements can barely be contained. And the theatrical moments are quite literally jaw-dropping; during a few instances, I actually screamed in exasperation.
But this is not a heavy or serious or theoretical performance by any means, it is the exact opposite. It is extremely simple, completely free of artifice or indigenous phrasing. A lot of vocalists sing things the way other vocalists sing things, regardless and irrespective of what's actually written in the original manuscript. Matthias Goerne sings what Franz Schubert wrote. Of course subjective interpretations abound, but the world which is created clearly comes from the mind of a fearful, giddy, tragic genius. And our host is an extremely insightful, patient, an indefatigable idealist, philosopher, dreamer, victim, victimizer, coward, and hero.
This is a Schwanengesang which truly gets under your skin. The complementary accompanying disc of Christoph Eschenbach performing the piano sonata, D. 960, is pleasant. It is neither dark nor light, neither fast nor slow, but it is very well in-tune with the various variations of moods and colors and rhythms and harmonies, but it is not particularly unique. It is a nice but not necessary addition.