Classical CD Reviews

SCHUBERT: Winterreise, D. 911 – Thomas Meglioranza, baritone/ Reiko Uchida, p. – self

It’s hard to believe that a vanity issue could rise to the ranks of the very best, but that is exactly what happens in this stunning reading.

Published on August 7, 2013

SCHUBERT: Winterreise, D. 911 – Thomas Meglioranza, baritone/ Reiko Uchida, piano – Available from, 72:02 *****:

Winner of the 2005 Walter W. Naumburg Competition, the Franz Schubert/Modern Music Competition in Graz, the Concert Artists Guild Competition, and the Joy in Singing Award, baritone Thomas Meglioranza, in this unabashed vanity issue, has given us one of the best modern recordings of Schubert’s genre-defining Winterreise. His voice is simply ravishing in all registers, a haunting, despondent, creamy, and melismatic instrument that seems tailor made for Schubert in general and this cycle in particular. Meglioranza’s impeccable diction serves to characterize every nuance of the text so to make subtle inflections and profoundly deep emotional connections to each of these wondrous songs. Uchida plays on an 1881 Steinway D Centennial, and accompanies with force, formidable sense of supporting the melody, and a cat-like ability to give depth and proper harmonic undergirding to the line—she is there at every moment, never dragging and never behind.

Schubert’s opus, published as Op. 89 in 1828, is a setting of 24 poems by Wilhelm Müller. It was written in two parts, about six months apart, and originally published that way. Schubert elevated the piano in this cycle, where his harmonies, always expressive of mood and setting, are taken to a new level, but this time with the additional of subtle and highly expressive rhythmic elements as well, something new in lieder writing that adds complexity and infinite gradations of expression to the setting as a whole. The work is gloomy, even tragic, but deeply redolent of the most esoteric qualities of high Romanticism, and the composer was very happy with it.

The qualities that we all like to hear in any Winterreise are present here in overwhelming quantities. As I said, this sumptuously recorded performance is engrossing and completely convincing from beginning to end. There are no notes but Meglioranza has seen fit to give us texts and translations. This is a first class issue all the way, and the established record companies are really going to be sorry they didn’t pick this one up.

—Steven Ritter

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