Winter Journey [2CD]

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Winter Journey

Franz Schubert: Die Winterreise Op.89 (D.911)

Nathan Lay (baritone), Brian Chapman (piano)

For this recording of Winterreise, Op. 89 (D.911), pianist Brian Chapman has prepared a new English translation, and as accompanist, with baritone Nathan Lay, recorded the entire song cycle in both English and German on two CDs. The set is presented with a lavish 56 book presentation featuring 24 paintings created by artist Lucy Chapman especially for this release.

Franz Schubert’s Winter Journey is widely regarded as the greatest of all song cycles for solo voice with piano, being claimed by some to be Schubert’s greatest work. The cycle takes around 70 minutes to perform and comprises settings of twenty-four poems by Wilhelm Müller (1794-1827) that deal with unrequited love, alienation, atheism and the contemplation of suicide.

Although Winterreise is numbered among Schubert’s final master-pieces, it remains a youthful work in every sense: Müller wrote the poems in his late twenties, Schubert set about composing the music having just turned 30, and the poems’ protagonist is a recently jilted youth. This gives the lie to any suggestion that Winterreise can only be performed by vocalists who have lived long enough to have suffered several decades’ worth of the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune – a suggestion which gives very little credit to the power of human intelligence and imagination!

Originally written for tenor voice, Winterreise has, since the twentieth century, become at least the equal province of the baritone, for whom, as in the present recording, all the songs are rendered in keys generally lower than those of the original tenor version. For this recording, pianist Brian Chapman has prepared a new English singable translation with the aim of fostering a wider audience for Schubert’s masterpiece beyond those who already love the original German version, while his wife, painter Lucy Chapman, has prepared 24 images inspired by the respective poems, following the example of a number of visual artists such as the German soprano-painter Lotte Lehmann (ca. 1940) and the Icelandic photographer Helga Kvam (ca. 2005).

Brian Chapman discusses his English translation of Winterreise: "Translation into English of the rhyming poetry of Winterreise is fraught with difficulties, beginning with the common German idiom of verbal compression – the conflation of multiple concepts into a single compound word. Another difficulty derives from the fact that one is setting new words to old music and, as far as possible, the music has to remain unaltered; in the event, there are a few instances where compromise has had to be admitted, but no more significant than that already present in Schubert’s score where, in successive verses of a strophic song, the text might be articulated across the same melodic phrase with different numbers of syllables. Alignment of stressed syllables with the music’s rhythm has often necessitated a considerable degree of poetic licence in the ordering of words within sentences and phrases. Should this alignment be viewed as compromised in some instances, it should be noted that Schubert did not shrink from using a discordant, wailing three-note phrase in bar 12 of No.6 (Wasserflut – Flood Water) to express the word “Weh” (woe) in the first verse and then using the same anguished phrase to express the preposition “auf” (in) in the second verse. The remaining major requirements have been that the general sense and specific imagery of Müller’s poems should be faithfully mirrored, while his original rhyming patterns should be matched exactly. In publishing this new translation it is a pleasure for me to acknowledge the commitment and support of Nathan Lay whose helpful observations and suggestions have resulted in substantial improvements to my initial draft. I hope that this new translation might help to widen the audience for this wonderful masterpiece."

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Track Listing

CD 1

Winter Journey, Op.89 (D. 911) Franz Schubert
Good Night
The Weather Vane
Frozen Tears
The Linden Tree
Flood Water
On the River
A Look Backward
Will o' the Wisp
Dream of Spring
The Post
The Old Man
The Crow
Last Hope
In the Village
The Stormy Morning
The Sign Post
The Inn
The False Suns
The Hurdy-Gurdy Man
The Hurdy-Gurdy Man (alternative ending)

CD 2

Winterreise, Op.89 (D. 911) Franz Schubert

Gute Nacht
Die Wetterfahne
Gefror'ne Tränen
Der Lindenbaum
Auf dem Fluße
Die Post
Der greise Kopf
Die Krähe
Letzte Hoffnung
Im Dorfe
Der stürmische Morgen
Der Wegweiser
Das Wirtshaus
Die Nebensonnen
Der Leiermann

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Move Records
MCD 594