Schubert - Winterreise
Mark Padmore; Paul Lewis
Harmonia Mundi HMU 907484
Known primarily as a baroque tenor, Mark Padmore turns out be a first class lieder singer. This is a personal opinion and I am well aware of opponents who would argue that Schubert must be sung by a singer whose native tongue is German. Padmore, who sings in the original key, communicates Wilhelm Müller’s lyrics with disarming, heartfelt sincerity. The tenor possesses a tender, floating voice that illuminates the cycle with a fresh and contagious approach. He projects the texts in such a way that he seems to be singing directly to the listener and not to an anonymous audience. There is not another version that comes even close to this one. One can only marvel at its daring originality and compassion.
In comparison with the version by Peter Pears and Benjamin Britten I was really surprised to find that Padmore and Lewis’s is interpretatively superior in every respect. Paul Lewis is a perfect partner. He is highly respected as a Beethoven and Schubert exponent and, as we now witness, proves an ideal collaborator in this genre.
While I remain enchanted by the timeless, sublime versions of the three Schubert song cycles sung by Herman Prey that I wrote about in the December issue - Winterreise was particularly moving as interpreted by that late German baritone accompanied by Helmut Deutsch (CMAJOR 700208) – Padmore’s new recording is perfectly balanced, clear and enjoyable, making his Winterreise a stand out. Harmonia Mundi promises that the other two cycles will follow.