- Winterreise, song cycle for voice & piano, D. 911 (Op. 89)
Franz Schubert's "Die Winterreise, D. 911," his emotionally devastated and devastating song cycle about a young man who takes off through a frozen landscape after being thrown over by his intended for a richer guy, was conceived for a tenor voice and is most often sung by tenors. But Schubert himself transposed it for baritone, and probably the best-known recording of modern times, that by Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, takes advantage of the more restrained melancholy natural to the baritone voice. It's easy to think of Fischer-Dieskau when first hearing the rounded tones of Canadian baritone Gerald Finley, but really this interpretation of "Die Winterreise" is all his own. He applies a good deal of flexible lyricism, but at the cycle's most painful emotional moments, such as "Auf dem Flusse" (On the River, track 7, with emotion breaking through the explicitly corpse-like surface of the frozen river), he holds the tempo steady with uncanny effect. The overall shape of the cycle benefits from these contrasts, and the ominous sundogs of "Nebensonne" (track 23) and the utter despair of "Der Leiermann" (track 24) have a strong emotional impact. Pair it all with unobtrusive, clear sound from Hyperion, and it's a must-have "Winterreise," even considering the panoply of other choices on the market.