Composers: Schubert
Compositions: Winterreise
Performers: Ian Bostridge t, Thomas Adès p
Catalogue Number: Pentatone PTC5186764

Peter Pears put off performing Schubert’s Winterreise until he was 50 as it was only then that he felt “sufficiently mature” to sing this “old man’s song cycle”.

The work holds no such misgivings for that other great English tenor, Ian Bostridge, who has lived with it for three decades and has recorded it twice before this new album with Thomas Adès on the piano.

Bostridge is 54 now and there is a neat symmetry – intended or not – with the 1963 Pears-Britten recording, especially with his choice of using a composer for the piano part. But there the comparisons end – Bostridge’s approach to these 24 songs is more nuanced and vigorous than Pears’ reedy, somewhat colourless old man, while Adès never over-eggs the romance in the way Britten does at times.

Britten said Schubert put little on the page and a lot was left up to the performers. Bostridge, with his sweet and open tone, and Adès, who can drill down to the core of this astounding music, are two superb communicators with a great empathy and understanding of each other.

Their partnership ensures that this engrossing and special reading of the tragic winter odyssey does not disappoint.

This is the pick of the crop of the recent recordings of Schubert’s masterpiece – different versions seem to be coming out monthly! Bostridge is, as always, totally assured.