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Schubert: Winterreise
Peter Harvey (baritone) & Gary Cooper (fortepiano)

Linn CKD 371

A Winterreise for the 19th & 21st Centuries !

Backed with thorough musciological exploration into appropriate instruments and transpositions etc, this is an important recording, one to challenge the intensity of many famous Lieder singers who fill the Wigmore Hall several times a year supported by modern Steinway pianos.

It is for us particularly welcome after a year of saturation in Mozart and Beethoven piano music on fortepiano - Bilson, Bezuidenhout etc - Cooper's choice of an early 19th century fortepiano (copy of an 1823 Broadwood) is ideal.

It all comes across with a new immediacy, not relying on rhetoric and histrionics and is an essential purchase for unprejudiced collectors to have on the shelf alongside the Fischer-Dieskaus (8 of his !) and a myriad others ; the completest discography might be at http://www.franzschubert.org.uk/articles/wint.html. There are, of course, others with fortepiano, but I will wait for others to do comparative reviews of them.

I am assured by my German speaking wife, a sometime contributor to Musical Pointers, who used to sing some of the songs as a child, that there are no linguistic problems with this version, which is totally engrossing and was splendidly recorded in a Berkshire church over three days in February 2009.

But some very wrong decisions have been taken by the Post-Production and Design team. Harvey in no way needs a full page portrait photo as against Cooper's small one. And neither of them needs - nor does anyone read? - those all-inclusive CVs (nowadays apparently obligatory) - Harvey's fills more than two pages...

The montage double-spread photo of "Peter Harvey in the mountains" is an embarrassment - with the same crow, above, as on the cover...

Rationalisation of some of these excesses would have left ample space for the usual parallel German/English texts, and obviated the need to get down one's copy of The Fischer-Dieskau Book of Lieder, which has perfect pagination.*

Perhaps the liner notes in our review copies are but drafts? If not, I trust these observations (not new ones, see CD_InsertBooklets) will be taken into account when the first re-print is required?

Recommended, then, with no reservations about the disc itself.

Peter Grahame Woolf

* P.S. The notes by Peter Harvey & Adam Binks are on line at http://www.linnrecords.com/recording-franz-schubert-winterreise.aspx and perhaps for visitors to their site Linn Records might add to their digital booklets the texts and translations in normal parallel layout? PGW