on 26 November 2000
If you are buying your first Winterreise, you can't do better than this: Beautifully clear singing, excellently recorded sound and a set of notes to help you through. In addition you'll get one of the great voices of the twentieth century at the height of his powers giving an authoritative, mature interpretation to one of the greatest song cycles of the nineteenth.
Mr Fischer-Dieskau is firmly centre stage with the accompaniment supporting rather than attempting to equal his singing (not withstanding, many excellent moments from Mr Demus).
There are other ways to interpret the music (I believe this is only one of 8 made by Mr Fischer-Dieskau), but none I have heard, better this performance.
on 22 March 2011
I am in full agreement with what the other three, five-star reviewers say but aim to offer a fresh perspective.
Schubert is the absolute master of the song-cycle and this represents Schubert at his very best.
Most of the songs, as befits the seasonal setting and lost love, portray a beautiful but haunting melancholy yet a few offer hope, comfort and promise. There are 24 songs in all, lasting a total of 73 minutes, with numbers: 1 Gute Nacht (Good Night), 5 Der Lindenbaum (The Lime Tree), 8 Ruckblick (Retrospect), 20 Der Wegweiser (The Signpost), 21 Das Wirtshaus (The Inn) and 22 Mat (Courage) being the most memorable. Incidentally there is a wonderful choral version of Der Lindenbaum, at a slightly faster tempo, the best version of this song that I have ever heard, on the triple CD collection: Romantic Choral Music (see my other reviews).
On this CD Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau is outstanding; not only is his performance worthy of just about every superlative, his diction is first rate and encourages one to master the German. The performance by Jorg Demus, on piano, is of the same calibre and the songs offer fairly lengthy piano introductions and plenty of scope for him to demonstrate his skills between the stanzas of Wilhelm Muller's poetry. This combination of baritone and pianist is unlikely ever to be bettered.
The words to each song are included, side by side, in the booklet in German, English and French.
To crown it all, this is a perfect recording - I cannot recommend it too highly.
on 5 April 2010
I have nine versions of this work in my library - all variables taken into account, this is the finest. The mature Fischer-Dieskau at the height of his powers, accompanied by the excellent Joerg Demus, who does not defer to but unfailingly supports his singer. If you listen to a cross-section of other recordings of this pinnacle of the Lied repertoire, you will hear many intersting moments and interesting takes on tempo and expression, from one song to another. If you are interested, have a listen to the Britten/Pears version and those of Martti Talvela/Ralf Gothoni and Hotter/Moore. Many fine, incisive moments. But if I were forced to choose one version of this masterpiece, this would be it. Worthily a DG classic recording. Heartily recommended.
Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau had one of the twentieth century's greatest baritone voices. This recording was made at the height of his powers when he was forty in 1965. Die Winterreise (Winter Journey), poetry of Wilhelm Muller set for piano and voice by Schubert, is surely one of the greatest song cycles of all time. Muller weaves a complex tapestry of images from his tragic feelings of desperation. Among these images are those of ice, snow, death, tears,bare lime trees, inhospitality, anguish and journeying. Much of the organic unity of the cycle is achieved by the poet's employment of these recurrent images. Even on his deathbed Schubert is reported to have been working through corrections of the proofs of the second part of Die Winterreise. The wonderful tones of Dietrich Fisher-Dieskau's voice breathe life into this bleakly beautiful experience. He is sensitively supported by the piano playing of Jorg Demus. Each note and phrase is caringly judged. Every word accent and stress plays its part. This voice and piano is unforgettable and can be listened to over and over again. The opening 'Good Night' sets the scene with great clarity.
Some of my favorite moments occur towards the end of the second part and include ' The Inn' and 'The Phantom Suns'.
I hope that you will enjoy this Winter Journey as much as I have.
on 5 April 2011
This is pretty much the definitive recording of what is schubert's most incisive and moving song cycle - both Die Schone Mullerin and Schwanengesang are wonderful works, but neither approaches the intensity or power of Winterreise. This music is in Fischer-Dieskau's genes - he did several recordings of it, the most prominent amongst which are his collaborations with Gerald Moore on the piano, but this recording remains the most expressive of them all. Jorg Demus provides perfect accompaniment, never intrusive or overbearing, and Fischer-Dieskau's singing is at its most moving without losing the sense of refinement of his later years.