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.
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.
Winterreise. Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau. It was bound to be marvellous, and at a great price too. What a great voice and interpretation. This certainly does not fall into the category of dreary liede. The CD is nicely presented too, with good sleeve notes. Dating from 1995 it has stood the test of time, or 21 years anyway. I wish I could get a good version sung in English.
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.
As others have said, this recording has a very mature sound which beautifully suits the lyrics. It's by far the best recording I've heard of Winterreise. It also appears to be sung a bit lower than other recordings I've heard. It might just be the timbre of the singers voice which is sonorous and full on the low notes. Also the piano playing is very empathetic and you don't feel like the pianist is playing like they've something to prove. They work really well together. This is perfect to play whilst driving in winter through bleak countryside.