An evening of dramatic intensity

Winterreise, Matthias Groene, baritone; Pierre-Laurent Aimard, piano; Aldeburgh Festival, Snape Maltings; June 19

Winterreise is the second of Schubert’s song cycles to poetry by Whilhelm Muller. Written near the end of the composer’s short life, these twenty four songs tell of the winter’s journey of a young man crossed in love, wandering through a bleak winter landscape toward his own destruction.

It is a work which poses the greatest challenge to any singer, containing as it does both the darkest and the most expressive music the composer ever wrote. That challenge was met most impressively on Sunday evening’s recital by the German baritone Mathhias Goerne and pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard.

Goerne’s voice posesses a velvety beauty of tone throughout the register, and it has plenty of power when he has cause to use it. He is a compelling presence, and his insight into this music enabled him to inject it with exactly the right degree of dramatic intensity.In Aimard, he had the subtlest of accompanists, always acutely aware of the interplay between piano and voice that these songs require.

It was a performance that had the audience in thrall throughout, one in which there seemed to be a palpable electricity between audience and performer, At the end there was absolute silence for what seemed an age before the tumultuous applause of a full house.

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