For this recording of Winterreise, Op. 89 (D.911), pianist Brian Chapman has prepared a new English translation, and as accompanist, with baritone Nathan Lay, recorded the entire song cycle in both English and German on two CDs. The set is presented with a lavish 56 book presentation featuring 24 paintings created by artist Lucy Chapman especially for this release.
Franz Schubert’s Winter Journey is widely regarded as the greatest of all song cycles for solo voice with piano, being claimed by some to be Schubert’s greatest work. The cycle takes around 70 minutes to perform and comprises settings of twenty-four poems by Wilhelm Müller (1794-1827) that deal with unrequited love, alienation, atheism and the contemplation of suicide.
Although Winterreise is numbered among Schubert’s final master-pieces, it remains a youthful work in every sense: Müller wrote the poems in his late twenties, Schubert set about composing the music having just turned 30, and the poems’ protagonist is a recently jilted youth. This gives the lie to any suggestion that Winterreise can only be performed by vocalists who have lived long enough to have suffered several decades’ worth of the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune – a suggestion which gives very little credit to the power of human intelligence and imagination!
Originally written for tenor voice, Winterreise has, since the twentieth century, become at least the equal province of the baritone, for whom, as in the present recording, all the songs are rendered in keys generally lower than those of the original tenor version. For this recording, pianist Brian Chapman has prepared a new English singable translation with the aim of fostering a wider audience for Schubert’s masterpiece beyond those who already love the original German version, while his wife, painter Lucy Chapman, has prepared 24 images inspired by the respective poems, following the example of a number of visual artists such as the German soprano-painter Lotte Lehmann (ca. 1940) and the Icelandic photographer Helga Kvam (ca. 2005).
Brian Chapman discusses his English translation of Winterreise: "Translation into English of the rhyming poetry of Winterreise is fraught with difficulties, beginning with the common German idiom of verbal compression – the conflation of multiple concepts into a single compound word. Another difficulty derives from the fact that one is setting new words to old music and, as far as possible, the music has to remain unaltered; in the event, there are a few instances where compromise has had to be admitted, but no more significant than that already present in Schubert’s score where, in successive verses of a strophic song, the text might be articulated across the same melodic phrase with different numbers of syllables. Alignment of stressed syllables with the music’s rhythm has often necessitated a considerable degree of poetic licence in the ordering of words within sentences and phrases. Should this alignment be viewed as compromised in some instances, it should be noted that Schubert did not shrink from using a discordant, wailing three-note phrase in bar 12 of No.6 (Wasserflut – Flood Water) to express the word “Weh” (woe) in the first verse and then using the same anguished phrase to express the preposition “auf” (in) in the second verse. The remaining major requirements have been that the general sense and specific imagery of Müller’s poems should be faithfully mirrored, while his original rhyming patterns should be matched exactly. In publishing this new translation it is a pleasure for me to acknowledge the commitment and support of Nathan Lay whose helpful observations and suggestions have resulted in substantial improvements to my initial draft. I hope that this new translation might help to widen the audience for this wonderful masterpiece."
Nathan Lay completed his Bachelor of Music at the Melba Conservatorium of Music in 2008, and has since established a career in the Melbourne opera, oratorio, and concert scene. He has won the National Liederfest, Australian Music Events’ Opera Scholar of the Year, the Royal Melbourne Philharmonic Aria, and placed 3rd in the Herald Sun Aria.
Born in England in 1944, Brian Chapman studied piano in Brisbane with Nora Baird from 1952, and in Melbourne from 1954 with Lindsay Biggins, J.A. Steele and Roy Shepherd. After obtaining his AMusA performing diploma in 1958, he discontinued piano lessons the following year for five years, returning to study with Roy Shepherd in 1964.
“Here is a considerable undertaking. Baritone Nathan Lay and pianist Brian Chapman have recorded Schubert’s superlative song-cycle in two languages, the English translations by Chapman himself. As well, the CD booklet incorporates illustrations by the accompanist’s wife Lucy – one picture per lied, the art designated by its creator as Nature Surrealism. This Lay/Chapman enterprise has many attractions, the chief one being the excellent relationship between the artists which shows an unflagging empathy at work throughout both versions of the 24-part sequence. You’d expect a note-perfect rendition of each page these days, given the powers of recording studios to mask technical flaws. But you don’t expect to come across a consistent meeting of interpretative minds such as you find here. Yes, there’s a temptation to put the credit for this at Chapman’s door, given his years of chamber music experience and status as a top-class accompanist. But that would detract from the baritone’s clear, consistently lyrical line which, if it’s not at the rich timbral level of formidable male Schubert singers who graced the last century, is as satisfying and rewarding as comparable performances from his contemporaries in this country.”Read full review
— Clive O'Connell, o'connellthemusic.com
“... an interesting double take on Franz Schubert’s greatest song cycle, Winterreise. As well as the original German version of the arrangements of Wilhelm Müller’s 24 poems, Chapman has put together his own English translation, and both are performed back to back on this classy and beautifully recorded double disc set from independent Melbourne label Move Records. Lay has an open, expressive and mellow timbre, and his experience as an operatic regular in his hometown – he won the 2016 International Opera Award among other prizes – means that he has a talent for inhabiting each stage of the hero’s tragic journey. The chemistry between singer and accompanist is strong, as is the judgement of tempo, dynamic and phrasing. Lay’s attention to the text, in both languages, is spot on and we feel we are witnessing both the stark and joyless landscape as well as the disturbing disintegration of the traveler’s mind. Attractively presented, both sets of lyrics are accompanied by Chapman’s informative notes on the musical aspect of each song as well as a painting by his wife, Dutch-born artist Lucy Chapman, and there’s a bonus track – an alternative accompaniment to The Hurdy-Gurdy Man.” ★★★½
— Steve Moffatt, Limelight
“This is a lavishly presented double account of surely the finest song cycle ever written ... Australian baritone Nathan Lay has a rich, full voice: expressive and with impeccable control, and his ardently youthful performances are highly pleasing ... successful translations ... each song is illustrated by Chapman’s artist wife Lucy ... a highly worthwhile project.”
— Barney Zwartz, Sydney Morning Herald
- Winter Journey, Op.89 (D. 911) – The Linden Tree
- Winter Journey, Op.89 (D. 911) – On the River
- Winter Journey, Op.89 (D. 911) – Last Hope
- Winter Journey, Op.89 (D. 911) – The Stormy Morning
- Winter Journey, Op.89 (D. 911) – The Hurdy-Gurdy Man (alternative ending)
- Winterreise, Op.89 (D. 911) – Der Lindenbaum
- Good Night
- The Weather Vane
- Frozen Tears
- The Linden Tree
- Flood Water
- On the River
- A Look Backward
- Will o' the Wisp
- Dream of Spring
- The Post
- The Old Man
- The Crow
- Last Hope
- In the Village
- The Stormy Morning
- The Sign Post
- The Inn
- The False Suns
- The Hurdy-Gurdy Man
- The Hurdy-Gurdy Man (alternative ending)
Winter Journey, Op.89 (D. 911) Franz Schubert
- Gute Nacht
- Die Wetterfahne
- Gefror'ne Tränen
- Der Lindenbaum
- Auf dem Fluße
- Die Post
- Der greise Kopf
- Die Krähe
- Letzte Hoffnung
- Im Dorfe
- Der stürmische Morgen
- Der Wegweiser
- Das Wirtshaus
- Die Nebensonnen
- Der Leiermann
Winterreise, Op.89 (D. 911) Franz Schubert
Franz Peter Schubert was an Austrian composer. Today, Schubert is admired as one of the leading exponents of the early Romantic era in music and he remains one of the most frequently performed composers.
Where to buy
Move CDs can be ordered through music retailers across Australia including Readings.
- List price
- $45.00 AUD
- Release date
- June 2019
- © 2019 Brian Chapman
- ℗ 2019 Move Records
- Catalogue number
- MCD 594
- EAN 9314574059427