First, I must admit that I am more familiar with Schubert’s Wintereisse through the voice of Ian Bostridge, but sung ‘straight’ with nothing else but a piano to accompany the tenor. Last year, I was completely absorbed by Bostridge and international pianist, Thomas Adès’s intimate concert at the Barbican (click here for review), when it was performed to coincide with Bostridge’s book, Schubert’s Winter Journey: Anatomy of an Obsession. Bostridge’s take on this landmark piece encapsulates the literary movement, Romanticism, which also inspired many cultural icons including Samuel Beckett.
Wintereisse is regarded as one of the greatest song-cycles ever written. The emotional impact, the sense of longing and loss, which also influenced German poet, Wilhelm Müller who was known by his contemporaries as the ‘German Bryon.’ Schubert’s music and German poetry stirs and captivates audiences, and gets them to ask, ‘who is this young man in despair? Why does he depart and wander into the cold? And why does he lament lost love? Schubert – who died at the young age of 32 – has written a work that hones in on the darker reflections of man, the meaning of existence and the human condition.