I  still remember the first time I heard Franz Schubert's Winterreise. It was whilst I was living in London in 1978 and it was performed at the Wigmore Hall. I was immediately captivated by the beauty of the songs and the depth of emotion conveyed by them, even though at the time I didn't speak German. Before leaving my native Tasmania, I performed the other great Schubert-Müller song cycle, Die schöne Müllerin, in a farewell recital, and have since performed it often. However I must confess that it has never fascinated me as much as does Winterreise.

I first sang Winterreise in 1983 and have sung it countless times since, almost always with my pianist friend Michael Allan. The piano part - so very much more than a mere 'accompaniment' - contains the psychological core of Winterreise. In this cycle, particularly, the singer and his pianist must fuse completely into an artistic whole. The wonderful thing about performing the same work over such a long period of time it is that every time you come back to it you discover something new, so that it could never get boring. I have always wanted to record Winterreise , so that when the opportunity arose, I of course asked Michael to join me.

Perhaps some people might consider  Winterreise  too "high brow" for them but I am convinced that if you enjoy good music you will be able to connect with these songs.  The story and the emotions depicted in them are just as valid today as they were to Schubert's time and the music is so beautiful, that I am sure that anyone who takes the time to listen to them will fall in love with them as I did.

Gary Bennett, November 2010

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