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How Vogl sang I don't know; more important was Schubert as the original pianist. They are said to have fallen out occasionally if Vogl embellished a vocal line. This, of course, Ian Patridge does not do, and he sings throughout with an attractive purity of tone. The recording dates from 1973 when this remarkable brother-sister partnership had certainly not wearied of Die schöne Müllerin. Yet there is a post-Industrial Revolution feeling to some of the songs, as if the mill had been mechanised. 'Halt!' is such an example [listen -- 5 86181 2 CD1 track 3, 0:00-1:23]. At the other extreme of sensitivity, in a performance both tender and moving, is 'Die liebe Farbe' [listen -- 5 86181 2 CD1 track 16, 0:00-1:27]. For the Partridges, it is always the sadder the better.

Schubert: Winterreise - Ian Bostridge, Leif Ove Andsnes. © 2004 EMI Records Ltd

'Good heavens, man, you compose like a god.' is supposed to have been Vogl's initial exclamation when Schubert sang 'Erlkönig' to him. Schubert's friends were disconcerted at first by the gloom and irony of the Winterreise cycle. Schubert's own assessment was just: 'I like these songs more than all the others and you will get to like them too.' I am sure Ian Bostridge is among their most ardent admirers, yet his performance is not satisfactory. There are touches of archness in this version, and in this most sombre cycle of the repertoire too many songs seem mannered, as in 'Tauschung' [listen -- 5 57790 2 track 19, 0:00-1:01]. A constant worry is the pronunciation of certain vowels, which sit uneasily within a word or can be downright ugly, for example in 'Mut' [listen -- 5 57790 2 track 22, 0:00-1:20]. Leif Ove Andsnes at the keyboard might experiment to advantage with another singer. Certainly 2004 is no improvement on 1973.

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Copyright © 16 February 2005 Robert Anderson, Calcutta, India


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