- Winterreise, song cycle for voice & piano, D. 911 (Op. 89)
Bass-baritone Daniel Lichti is primarily known in his native Canada, but his performance of "Winterreise" stands among the finest versions on disc. Lichti's voice is reassuringly solid from top to bottom, and his legato phrasing is seamless. Lichti invests the passages where Schubert calls for real power, such as the end of Gute Nacht, with piercingly intense resonance. The performers' interpretation emphasizes instability of the protagonist, and Lichti makes his emotional outbursts genuinely frightening without sacrificing tonal purity or musical values. The protagonist's mercurial mood changes show that this is obviously a man on the verge of being completely unhinged. While Lichti's German is excellent, it sounds just a little bit studied, without the easy spontaneity of a native speaker, but that's a minor quibble in such a strong and vibrant performance of the songs. Leslie De'Ath plays a mid-nineteenth century fortepiano that doesn't sound quite as dissimilar to modern pianos as those of Schubert's time. De'Ath is an ideal collaborator; he provides an understated, but expressive accompaniment that doesn't call undue attention to itself. Analekta's sound is clean, warm, and intimate, and the balance is excellent. The emotional intensity and musicality of the performances and the high production values make this a version of the song cycle that should interest any lovers of Schubert.