An exploration of the world's most famous and challenging song cycle, Schubert's Winter Journey ( Winterreise ), by a leading interpreter of the work, who teases out the themes--literary, historical, psychological--that weave through the twenty-four songs that make up this legendary masterpiece.Read more...
An exploration of the world's most famous and challenging song cycle, Schubert's Winter Journey (Winterreise), by a leading interpreter of the work, who teases out the themes--literary, historical, psychological--that weave through the twenty-four songs that make up this legendary masterpiece.Completed in the last months of the young Schubert's life, Winterreise has come to be considered the single greatest piece of music in the history of Lieder. Deceptively laconic--these twenty-four short poems set to music for voice and piano are performed uninterrupted in little more than an hour--it nonetheless has an emotional depth and power that no music of its kind has ever equaled. A young man, rejected by his beloved, leaves the house where he has been living and walks out into snow and darkness. As he wanders away from the village and into the empty countryside, he experiences a cascade of emotions--loss, grief, anger, and acute loneliness, shot through with only fleeting moments of hope--until the landscape he inhabits becomes one of alienation and despair. Originally intended to be sung to an intimate gathering, performances of Winterreise now pack the greatest concert halls around the world. Drawing equally on his vast experience performing this work (he has sung it more than one hundred times), on his musical knowledge, and on his training as a scholar, Bostridge teases out the enigmas and subtle meanings of each of the twenty-four lyrics to explore for us the world Schubert inhabited, his biography and psychological makeup, the historical and political pressures within which he became one of the world's greatest composers, and the continuing resonances and affinities that our ears still detect today, making Schubert's wanderer our mirror.
- ISBN-13: 9780307961631
- ISBN-10: 030796163X
- Publisher: Knopf Publishing Group
- Publish Date: January 2015
- Page Count: 528
- Dimensions: 7.3 x 5.5 x 1.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2014-10-13
- Reviewer: Staff
In 1828, Franz Schubert gathered his circle of friends to perform Winterreise (Winter Journey), his latest song cycle, for them; they found the music gloomy and mournful, but Schubert—who died that year at age 31—said that he liked these songs more than all the others he had composed, and that his listeners would come to like them as well. Schubert’s 24-song cycle, originally written to be recited by a male vocalist and piano for 70 minutes, without interruption, in intimate settings, is now performed in large concert halls around the world. English tenor Bostridge, who has sung these pieces frequently, offers his take on the meaning and enduring power of Winterreise. Most of the short chapters are written in elegant prose that soars off the pages, though some fall surprisingly flat. Bostridge probes the historical context of each piece and explores its connections to other arts. For example, he points out the connections between the music and lyrics of the cycle’s first song, “Good Night,” and Goethe’s two poems “Fairy King” and “Gretchen at the Spinning Wheel”: the poems animate the entire song and, musically, “subtle changes are used to shift perspective or emotional temperature.” The words of “Rest,” the 10th song in Winterreise, reflect a “rebellious ferocity and a testament to repressed energy and pain.” Bostridge’s illuminating reflections will guide readers as they listen again, or for the first time, to the nuances of Schubert’s great work. (Jan.)