Six months after his only commercially successful concert, Schubert died of an illness that history has since crosshatched as syphilis and/or typhoid fever. Despite the elemental desolation of Winterreise, it is ecstatic in movement—dropping low and leaping in a daze to touch the sun. The strict, often slow, tempo jousts with liquidus emotions that would like nothing more than to burst in an instant. The writing is from poet Wilhelm Muller. It is not much more than pleasant and sad. But as the words blow like cold air around Schubert’s maze, they awaken and project an individual life with breath-seizing spiritual clarity.
A favourite: “Frühlingstraum”
NB: The album cover is our Winterreise of choice, but we would like to recommend Ian Bostridge’s vocal interpretation as well.