Forum Opera reviews Matthias Goerne and Leif Ove Andsnes’ Schubert cycle in Paris
“One of the major challenges in the interpretation of Winterreise lies in its title. In no case should it be a dreary road through dull snow and a grey sky. If the Schubertian journey has acquired a posterity which it would be superfluous to describe, it is precisely because under the layer of frost there shines a mosaic of dense and colored feelings.
“Matthias Goerne and Leif Ove Andsnes are on the program for this second evening. A rather sober “Gute Nacht” opens the cycle, probably because of the fresh playing of the pianist, giving little relief to this imperturbable plot of quavers. “Die Wetterfahne” proves quite the contrary: Matthias Goerne plays with the wind and makes this song however a brief little success on its own. “Erstarrung” makes for the first time guess what is hidden under the ice. Neither the playing of Andsnes nor the breath of Goerne is wanting in the waves that flood the audience.
… The same great success is to be found in “Auf dem Flusse”, where despair seems so great that he would at all costs pierce the ice cap under which it is contained. Leif Ove Andsnes’s granitic and angular playing immediately reminds one of Caspar David Friedrich’s landscapes, and it is also thanks to him that “Rückblick” swirls with impatience as does “Irrlicht” with its deceptive light. Let us also note that both interpreters have the intelligence to work their transitions between the pieces each time by measured silences.
“Another great summit of the evening is “Frühlingstraum”. Each atmosphere is carefully worked out by our duo, who do not hesitate to make malleable times to underline the changes of narration. The superhuman effort deployed in the central crescendo contrasts ideally with the restraint of the latter part. The same rise can be found a few pages later in the evocation of the crow (“Die Krähe”), where the soul of the narrator, including his close end, begins to boil and swell under the ice of the winter.
“In “Der Wegweiser”, Goerne plays the same game on the strophic form as in the previous songs. The perpetual modulations of the major to the minor and vice versa are not sufficient for the baritone, and it is again through the word that the right color is created. After a deadly “Wirtshaus” and a “Mut” showing a humble excess, the parhélies (“Die Nebensonnen”) set the stage for the closing of the cycle. As in a farewell to light and life, the dancing hymn of the three spheres allows our two interpreters to create the vacuum necessary for the old man’s hurdy-gurdy. In “Der Leiermann”, it is perhaps for the first time that the color is extinguished, leaving as sole support for the listener those words that Goerne transmits to us in the greatest simplicity. The relentless fifth plunges us into a grisaille without exit, finally giving us the impression of having arrived at the end of our journey.”
Source: Forum Opera