Wilhelm Müller / Franz Schubert
Winterreise D 911
version for narrator, cello and piano by Martin Rummel
Xaver Hutter, narrator
Martin Rummel, cello
Norman Shetler, piano
For many years, I have loved "Winterreise", and with Franz Schubert I feel a particular emotional connection. Of many phrases that he wrote I just understand why they are the way they are. I think it was Mischa Maisky who started playing "random" Schubert songs and also recorded some, yet - however beautifully played - I always felt something was missing. Unfortunately not all Schubert song texts are the greatest works of literature, but "Winterreise" is certainly an exciting cycle of poems, modern and symbolic and telling a fascinating story of an inner journey.
In July 2004, I was lucky enough to premiere this version at the Holzhauser Musiktage in Germany, together with actor August Zirner and pianist Norman Shetler. I remember coming to Norman Shetler's studio in Vienna for the rehearsal and literally as the first thing seeing a huge concert poster from the 1970s from "La Scala" in Milan, advertising "Winterreise" with Peter Schreier and himself - my heart sunk. But when we came off stage after this first concert, Norman looked at me and said: "I do not think I ever enjoyed 'Winterreise' more". Those are the moments that matter ...
This CD is also a live recording from a concert, this time with Austrian actor Xaver Hutter, whose juvenile and passionate approach has been subject of discussions amongst many of my friends who have probably heard too many singers indulging in suicidal sentiment and premature wisdom. Let's just not forget that Schubert died at the age of 31. The music is naturally way beyond that age, but the emotional state? I think that the music does not illustrate the text - it adds a completely new dimension to the journey of the wanderer, and this project will always be especially close to my heart.
In January 2012 we had a belated birthday celebration for Norman Shetler's 80th at the Musikverein in Vienna and we reunited with August Zirner for a performance of "Winterreise". It is that particular concert that I can definitely say about that I never enjoyed "Winterreise" more.