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Winterreise voice?

  • Tenor

    Votes: 8 22.9%
  • Baritone

    Votes: 13 37.1%
  • Bass Baritone

    Votes: 5 14.3%
  • Bass

    Votes: 2 5.7%
  • No preference

    Votes: 7 20.0%
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Tenor or Baritone or Bass baritone or Bass? I never tire of this piece and so like to hear different voices. But if i had to choose i guess it would be tenor, the sonorities suit the frosty feel.
 

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You left out mezzo-soprano and soprano. Mezzos Christa Ludwig and Brigitte Fassbaender both sang and recorded Winterreisse, as have sopranos Christine Schäfer (with pianist Eric Schneider), Lotte Lehmann (with pianist Paul Ulanowsky), Julianne Baird (with Andrew Willis on a fortepiano) and Barbara Hendricks (with pianist Love Derwinger), etc.. & there is actually an early precedent for a female voice performing Schubert's musical settings to Wilhelm Müller's poem cycles, considering that soprano Jenny Lind sang Die Schöne Müllerin. & Lind's singing was admired by Robert Schumann, Hector Berlioz, and of course Felix Mendelssohn, with whom she is most associated (as they had a love affair, and Mendelssohn subsequently wrote the soprano part in Elijah for her); as well as by other composers, too. Although, ultimately, I don't favor the Winterreise cycle as sung by a female singer myself, despite that I find Fassbaender interesting in this music.

Fassbaender, Reimann:
Schäfer, Schneider:
Ludwig, Levine:
Lehmann, Ulanowsky:

Of course, Schubert originally composed both Müller poem cycles, Die Schöne Müllerin and Winterreise, for a tenor voice & fortepiano. But he was apparently open to transposing Winterreisse down for a baritone voice, because he performed Die Schöne Müllerin with his friend, the baritone Johann Michael Vogl, in a concert tour across Austria in the mid-1820s. Plus, sadly, Vogl's performance of Winterreise is thought to be the only time that Schubert heard his Winterreise cycle before he passed away. Although Schubert had himself performed Winterreise for his friends, after he'd composed it, and it is presumed that Schubert had a tenor voice.

Today, the recent Bärenreiter New Schubert Edition offers versions of Winterreise for high, middle, and low voices. So Schubert's acceptance of his baritone friend, Vogl, singing both song cycles seems to have started a precedent for ANYONE singing these works.

Personally, I prefer Schubert's original version for tenor voice and fortepiano, in the original keys!--for both cycles. Since I find that Winterreisse carries a more eerie & deeply haunting range of emotion when it is sung by a tenor, and especially when the tenor voice is matched to a fortepiano. For me, the higher pitch of a tenor voice together with a fortepiano expresses a greater vulnerability & a more delicate range of suffering and heartache and aloneness. After all, this is deeply emotional music. In other words, if given the opportunity to time travel, I'd choose to hear Schubert sing his cycle, accompanying himself on a fortepiano, in the original keys, than sung by his baritone friend, Vogl.

However, I also listen to tenor versions accompanied by a modern piano, too. I should point out that the piano part plays a more significant and expanded role in Winterreise than it does in Die Schöne Müllerin, where I don't see it as being the equal to the singer. While in Winterreise the piano is called upon to produce a huge range of effects and therefore is more prominent.

My favorite performances by tenors are those by Peter Schreier (especially live with pianist Sviatoslav Richter, but also in the studio with Andras Schiff), Werner Güra with Christoph Berner playing a period piano from 1875, Christoph Pregardien with Andreas Staier playing a Viennese period piano from 1825, and Jan Kobow with Christoph Hammer playing a Viennese Brodmann piano from around 1810. Though I wish there was a recording by Fritz Wunderlich...

On piano:

Schreier, Richter, live:
Schreier, Schiff:

On a period piano:

Güra, Berner:
Pregardien, Staier:
Kobow, Hammer:

But I'll also occasionally listen to baritone performances as well: primarily those by Olaf Bar with pianist Geoffrey Parsons (which gets underrated, IMO), Gerard Souzay with pianist Dalton Baldwin, and Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau with pianist Gerald Moore (on DG & EMI, though I most prefer their 1962 EMI recording), and also the later one with Alfred Brendel on Philips.

Bar, Parsons:
Fischer-Dieskau, Moore (1962, EMI):
Souzay, Baldwin:

In addition, there have been various transcriptions made of Winterreise. For example, Franz Liszt transcribed 12 of the songs from Winterreise to the piano (as it was originally a 12 song cycle):
. While there are also versions for tenor and piano trio (arranged by tenor Daniel Behle & performed with the Oliver Schnyder Trio):
, and for tenor and string quartet (arranged by J. Josef and performed by Peter Schreier with the Dresdner Streichquartett):
. There is also a composed "interpretation" by composer/conductor Hans Zender for tenor and small orchestra (performed by Hans Peter Blochwitz and Ensemble Modern on RCA, Christoph Pregardien and Klangforum Wien on Kairos:
, and Daniel Behle and the WDR Symphony Orchestra:
). Plus, there's even a version for tenor, accordion, & wind ensemble!, performed by Pregardien and Pentaédre: https://www.prestomusic.com/classical/products/7969643--schubert-winterreise-d911. ETC.

So, why limit yourself to just a variety of different voices?

(By the way, here's a link to the ultimate Winterreise website: https://winterreise.online. There is also a companion Die Schöne Müllerin website, too, if anyone's interested.)
 

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I prefer a tenor or high baritone who preserve key relationships and minimize downward transposition. The cycle is gloomy enough without adding to the gloom with a bass or bass-baritone voice and muddy, tranposed accompaniments (despite the fact that some of my favorite singers of those voice types, like Hotter, van Dam, Lloyd and recently Groissböck, have recorded the cycle).

I share Josquin13's enthusiasm for Pregardien/Staier and Gura/Berner, but also, among tenor versions, Pears/Britten (as much for Britten's playing as Pears' singing). As for baritone versions, the two I return to most are Hagegard/Schuback and Mattei/Nilsson. For some reason, I'm willing to tolerate some less-than-beautiful vocalism in my tenor versions, but the baritones have to have handsome, healthy voices, and both Hagegard and Mattei certainly meet that criterion.
 

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I prefer baritones to tenors in general (not DFD though), and I don't find that the cycle becomes too dark or lugubrious - I think that's basically what it's all about. I find this old recording by Gerhard Hüsch to be exquisitely vocalized such that the darkness is somewhat mitigated:

Ralph Moore's survey provides some interesting thoughts, but his opinions are certainly far off the beaten path, and he excludes Schreier, Fischer-Dieskau, Pears, Pregardien, Bostridge, and several others from his survey because he doesn't like their voices. I do agree with his recommendation of Kurt Moll though; if you want an "old man looking back on his youthful sorrows" kind of approach I think it's darned near unbeatable.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
You left out mezzo-soprano and soprano. Mezzos Christa Ludwig and Brigitte Fassbaender both sang and recorded Winterreisse, as have sopranos Christine Schäfer (with pianist Eric Schneider), Lotte Lehmann (with pianist Paul Ulanowsky), Julianne Baird (with Andrew Willis on a fortepiano) and Barbara Hendricks (with pianist Love Derwinger), etc.. & there is actually an early precedent for a female voice performing Schubert's musical settings to Wilhelm Müller's poem cycles, considering that soprano Jenny Lind sang Die Schöne Müllerin. & Lind's singing was admired by Robert Schumann, Hector Berlioz, and of course Felix Mendelssohn, with whom she is most associated (as they had a love affair, and Mendelssohn subsequently wrote the soprano part in Elijah for her); as well as by other composers, too. Although, ultimately, I don't favor the Winterreise cycle as sung by a female singer myself, despite that I find Fassbaender interesting in this music.

Fassbaender, Reimann:
Schäfer, Schneider:
Ludwig, Levine:
Lehmann, Ulanowsky:

Of course, Schubert originally composed both Müller poem cycles, Die Schöne Müllerin and Winterreise, for a tenor voice & fortepiano. But he was apparently open to transposing Winterreisse down for a baritone voice, because he performed Die Schöne Müllerin with his friend, the baritone Johann Michael Vogl, in a concert tour across Austria in the mid-1820s. Plus, sadly, Vogl's performance of Winterreise is thought to be the only time that Schubert heard his Winterreise cycle before he passed away. Although Schubert had himself performed Winterreise for his friends, after he'd composed it, and it is presumed that Schubert had a tenor voice.

Today, the recent Bärenreiter New Schubert Edition offers versions of Winterreise for high, middle, and low voices. So Schubert's acceptance of his baritone friend, Vogl, singing both song cycles seems to have started a precedent for ANYONE singing these works.

Personally, I prefer Schubert's original version for tenor voice and fortepiano, in the original keys!--for both cycles. Since I find that Winterreisse carries a more eerie & deeply haunting range of emotion when it is sung by a tenor, and especially when the tenor voice is matched to a fortepiano. For me, the higher pitch of a tenor voice together with a fortepiano expresses a greater vulnerability & a more delicate range of suffering and heartache and aloneness. After all, this is deeply emotional music. In other words, if given the opportunity to time travel, I'd choose to hear Schubert sing his cycle, accompanying himself on a fortepiano, in the original keys, than sung by his baritone friend, Vogl.

However, I also listen to tenor versions accompanied by a modern piano, too. I should point out that the piano part plays a more significant and expanded role in Winterreise than it does in Die Schöne Müllerin, where I don't see it as being the equal to the singer. While in Winterreise the piano is called upon to produce a huge range of effects and therefore is more prominent.

My favorite performances by tenors are those by Peter Schreier (especially live with pianist Sviatoslav Richter, but also in the studio with Andras Schiff), Werner Güra with Christoph Berner playing a period piano from 1875, Christoph Pregardien with Andreas Staier playing a Viennese period piano from 1825, and Jan Kobow with Christoph Hammer playing a Viennese Brodmann piano from around 1810. Though I wish there was a recording by Fritz Wunderlich...

On piano:

Schreier, Richter, live:
Schreier, Schiff:

On a period piano:

Güra, Berner:
Pregardien, Staier:
Kobow, Hammer:

But I'll also occasionally listen to baritone performances as well: primarily those by Olaf Bar with pianist Geoffrey Parsons (which gets underrated, IMO), Gerard Souzay with pianist Dalton Baldwin, and Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau with pianist Gerald Moore (on DG & EMI, though I most prefer their 1962 EMI recording), and also the later one with Alfred Brendel on Philips.

Bar, Parsons:
Fischer-Dieskau, Moore (1962, EMI):
Souzay, Baldwin:

In addition, there have been various transcriptions made of Winterreise. For example, Franz Liszt transcribed 12 of the songs from Winterreise to the piano (as it was originally a 12 song cycle):
. While there are also versions for tenor and piano trio (arranged by tenor Daniel Behle & performed with the Oliver Schnyder Trio):
, and for tenor and string quartet (arranged by J. Josef and performed by Peter Schreier with the Dresdner Streichquartett):
. There is also a composed "interpretation" by composer/conductor Hans Zender for tenor and small orchestra (performed by Hans Peter Blochwitz and Ensemble Modern on RCA, Christoph Pregardien and Klangforum Wien on Kairos:
, and Daniel Behle and the WDR Symphony Orchestra:
). Plus, there's even a version for tenor, accordion, & wind ensemble!, performed by Pregardien and Pentaédre: https://www.prestomusic.com/classical/products/7969643--schubert-winterreise-d911. ETC.

So, why limit yourself to just a variety of different voices?

(By the way, here's a link to the ultimate Winterreise website: https://winterreise.online. There is also a companion Die Schöne Müllerin website, too, if anyone's interested.)
My bad - i have never listened to a female voice for this cycle. Thanks Josquin. Going strong after 500 years.
 

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I also like bariton versions (and I have Fassbaender as well as at least one bass (Greindl) on the shelves) but some things work best in the tenor original. I support the recommendation of Pregardien/Staier and an impressive historical tenor version (or several) was recorded by Peter Anders.
Unfortunately I cannot remember the passage but there are several (and one once struck me in particular) when only in the tenor version we have a proper relation between accompaniment and voice. Maybe theoretically it should not matter but transpositions are often not done consistently, i.e. depending on singers preferences a high baritone will sing some in the original? form others obviously transposed, or even transposed by different intervals to get most comfortable. For most tenors some original passages also seem clearly uncomfortable, e.g. "Mein Herz, mein Herz" in "Die Post" can sound quite strained and anguished but this is not inappropriate.
 

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It's not Kurt Moll's greatest singing, but as with so many things, once I've heard him no one else matters. His Orfeo recording has been with me nonstop lo these many years.
 

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It's not Kurt Moll's greatest singing, but as with so many things, once I've heard him no one else matters. His Orfeo recording has been with me nonstop lo these many years.
I yield to no one in my admiration for Kurt Moll, but he sounds rather out of sorts on this recording. I'm generally not a fan of low-voiced Winterreisen, but on those occasions when I want one, there are better choices, such as Greindl, Hotter's with Werba, van Dam, or Robert Lloyd.
 

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Winterreise voice?

Alto (and not countertenor).
 

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My long-time favourite has been Olaf Bär / Geoffrey Parsons, so I'll say a baritone.

I came late to discover the wondering singing of Christoph Prégardien / Andreas Staier (& other accompanists), so I'll say a tenor.

The recent one that got me absolutely smitten is Joyce DiDonato / Yannick Nézet-Séguin, so I'll say a mezzo!
 

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I yield to no one in my admiration for Kurt Moll, but he sounds rather out of sorts on this recording. I'm generally not a fan of low-voiced Winterreisen, but on those occasions when I want one, there are better choices, such as Greindl, Hotter's with Werba, van Dam, or Robert Lloyd.
That's what I meant by "not his greatest singing", he croaks a little:p
But I still love the basic voice so much (i think there's no other singer with that resonance at the bottom of the voice)--- I think I have a Hotter, probably have Greindl, certain I have Van Dam. Van Dam is a little dull in this to me, that's what I remember, and I have never found much attractive about Hotter in any setting, including an extended set of lieder recordings on Dante or Lys. Have to go back and look at Greindl, i certainly know the name but the recordings I've encountered aren't coming to mind.

i saw Winterreise as a theater piece with Simon Keenlyside in NYC long ago and it was wonderful, because he's wonderful. I think his first recording was a Schubert lieder recital that I really love. And he did this interpretive dance version in a very expressive and moving way.
 

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Ralph Moore's survey provides some interesting thoughts, but his opinions are certainly far off the beaten path, and he excludes Schreier, Fischer-Dieskau, Pears, Pregardien, Bostridge, and several others from his survey because he doesn't like their voices. I do agree with his recommendation of Kurt Moll though; if you want an "old man looking back on his youthful sorrows" kind of approach I think it's darned near unbeatable.
His fussiness about voices is regularly infuriating. He misses out on so many great performances and not just with Winterreise. It's a shame because otherwise he often has interesting things to say and his knowledge of recordings is large ... but his viability as a serious critic is severely damaged by all those allergies.
 

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His fussiness about voices is regularly infuriating. He misses out on so many great performances and not just with Winterreise. It's a shame because otherwise he often has interesting things to say and his knowledge of recordings is large ... but his viability as a serious critic is severely damaged by all those allergies.
Why would it not be valid to exclude singers from your choices if you don't like their voices? That's an odd standard. "I don't like the voice but others think it's good so I'll sign on"?

I won't dilate on my agreement with the opinions of some of the singers mentioned, doesn't help to knock things others like, but certainly valid to not like some of these singers.
 

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Why would it not be valid to exclude singers from your choices if you don't like their voices?
I agree. They're Moore's personal preferences. If I don't enjoy the sound of a singer's voice, their recording is, for me, a nonstarter, and I'm not going to waste my time listening to a singer whose basic sound irritates or annoys me, trying to hear what others hear. Music is to be enjoyed.
 

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Why would it not be valid to exclude singers from your choices if you don't like their voices? That's an odd standard. "I don't like the voice but others think it's good so I'll sign on"?

I won't dilate on my agreement with the opinions of some of the singers mentioned, doesn't help to knock things others like, but certainly valid to not like some of these singers.
It is the sheer volume of widely loved and respected singers that he rejects that gets me. I find that limits the value to me of his potentially invaluable critiques. I have no problem with his having his own taste but I feel a critic should be able to understand the appeal of a range of approaches to a piece.
 

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I agree. They're Moore's personal preferences. If I don't enjoy the sound of a singer's voice, their recording is, for me, a nonstarter, and I'm not going to waste my time listening to a singer whose basic sound irritates or annoys me, trying to hear what others hear. Music is to be enjoyed.
That's fair enough--so long as it's also fair that a critic's exclusions may make him or her, for some readers, a nonstarter.
 
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