- Winterreise, song cycle for voice & piano, D. 911 (Op. 89)
In this cycle of 24 songs, Schubert tells the story of a young man who, abandoned by his girlfriend, wanders a cold, wintry landscape where icy images mockingly remind him of the happiness he once knew. But the drama of Winterreise (Winter's Journey) takes place entirely in the mind of our wandering hero. The poetry by Wilhelm Müller is not really distinguished; it's the intensity of Schubert's music that makes this psychological portrait so harrowing and perceptive. Baritone Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau has had an intimate association with Schubert's songs -- he's the only singer to have recorded all of them (for DG) -- and he's recorded at least six different versions of Winterreise over the years. This one is from 1965, when the singer's technique, tone, and artistry were in perfect balance. Pianist Jörg Demus evokes the bleak atmosphere with chilling restraint.