HÜSCH Schubert: Winterreise (1933) - PACO005

This album is included in the following sets:

HÜSCH Schubert: Winterreise (1933) - PACO005

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SCHUBERT  Winterreise

Recorded in 1933
Duration: 65:38

Gerhard Hüsch, baritone
Hanns Udo Müller, piano

This set contains the following albums:

Schubert's masterful song cycle Winterreise

Première recording from 1933 in superb sound quality

Often regarded as perhaps the greatest song cycle ever written, we're delighted to present the world première recording, newly remastered by Andrew Rose from immaculate 78rpm discs.

This classic interpretation remained in the HMV catalogue for over 20 years and was regarded as definitive. It is almost complete - there is a verse omitted from Gute Nacht to enable it to fit onto a 78 rpm side - and the standard of recording almost matches the standard of musical artistry.

To come across a set of this vintage and to be able to bring out such a wonderful sound is one of the great privileges of doing this kind of work - since its completion this is one recording which has remained constantly on my listening list - the beauty of Schubert's bleak melancholy so magically captured by Gerhard Hüsch and Hans Udo Müller is one to return to over and over.

Between 1925 and 1945 Gerhard Hüsch was a regular star of the operatic stage, making his debut at Liberau in Lortzing’s Der Waffenschmied in Osnabrück. He was also one of the most admired singers of Lieder of the 1930's - as this recording demonstrates, this admiration was wholly justified. After his retirement, Hüsch made a second outstanding career as a master teacher of vocal interpretations, latterly also in London.

This recording was originally issued as a limited edition by HMV, listed under their Society sets, and was followed a years later by a recording of Die Schöne Müllerin, which we offer as PACO007.

Andrew Rose

  • SCHUBERT  Winterreise

Duration: 65:38

Recorded in 1933, issued as 9 HMV 78s DB2039-2044 & DA1344-1346

Matrix Numbers: 32-4036.2D1627-II, 32-4010.2D1628-I, 30-11148.0B6497-II, 32-4048.2D1636-I, 32-4011.2D1631-I, 30-11149.0D1630-II, 32-4049.2D1627-II, 30-11150.0B6502-II, 32-4012.1626-II, 30-11151.0B6506-I,32-4013.2B6503-II, 32-4014.2B6505-I,32-4015.2B6507-I, 30-11152.0D1629-II, 32-4016.2B6509-I, 32-4017.2B6510-1, 32-4018.2D1639-II, 30-11153.0D1638-II

Gerhard Hüsch, baritone
Hanns Udo Müller
, piano

Bill Rosen's Review

In this marvelous restoration he and his pianist present a very rare balance of beauty and musicianship that brings life to this transcendent song cycle

Although Beethoven is generally credited with creating the first song cycle ("And die Ferne Geliebte"), Schubert ennobled the genre with his two masterpieces "Die Schöne Müllerin" and "Die Winterreise". In the 19th century only Schumann's "Dichterliebe" and "Frauenliebe und Leben" competed with Schubert's works. The 20th century has been more productive beginning with Mahler's towering "Das Lied von der Erde", Janacek's "The Diary of One Who Disappeared", continuing with Frank Martin's "Sech Monologue aus Jedermann" and the magnificent and nearly unknown "The Love and Death of Cornet Christopher Rilke" and finally two of Shostakovich's seminal works: the 14th symphony and the Suite on Verses of Michelangelo.

But none of these successors to Die Winterreise have managed to create for an entire hour a mood of such intensity and despair. In the earlier and happier work (Müllerin), the disappointed lover drowns himself in the everpresent babbling brook. In Die Winterreise, the jilted would-be bridegroom already is ironically leaving town in the first song and about to embark on an hour-long leave-taking journey where the winter outside is as nothing compared to the winter in his soul. There are moments of partial relief (Die Lindenbaum), but the jouney leads to Der Leiermann, the Hurdy-Gurdy Man, barefoot on the ice, in rags, who plays listlessly and gets no coppers and moves on. The protagonist also has nowhere to go and nothing else to do - a true winter of existential emptiness.

The singer of Winterreise must maintain some variety within the overall tragic framework. He must keep the protagonist's basic identity in spite of the increasing mood swings toward the end of the cycle: the more than a hint of suicide in Der Wegweiser ["One road I must travel by which no one ever returned"] and the possible madness of Die Nebensonnen [The Phantom Suns]. I have been an appreciative fan of Gerhardt Hüsch's Winterreise for at least 20 years, but Pristine Audio has scrubbed the grime of the decades from it and and both Hüsch and Müller emerge with unsuspected brilliance and power and it seems as if I'm hearing them for the first time. Hüsch has an incredibly pure, masculine and tender voice. His taste is always very musical; he never shouts or growls or croons, but he knows how to convey passion and sorrow. The piano playing and piano sound is so gorgeous. 1933? It's hard to believe.

I'm loath to mention highlights, but just a few: (1) the strong and stately Der Lindenbaum, (2) the halting sadness of Wasserflut, (3) the excellent limning of the rapidly changing moods of Frühlingstraum, (4) the simple but ironic joy of Die Post, (5) the proto-suicidal Die Wegweiser, and (6) the unsentimental, affecting final Die Leiermann.

To keep myself calibrated, I listened to Frühlingstraum by four other great singers: Fischer-Dieskau (1955), Hotter (1943), Haefliger (1985), and Prey (1984). Fischer-Dieskau had all the artistry one expects, but his voice lacked the beauty of Hüsch's. Hotter seemed too old and grim by half. Haefliger was magnificent in his changes of timbre, but the "whiteness" in his voice reduced the sensual pleasure. Prey's voice was very beautiful and the closest to Hüsch's in sound and artistry. I will not say that Gerhardt Hüsch is the greatest Winterreise singer of all, but I can say that in this marvelous restoration he and his pianist present a very rare balance of beauty and musicianship that brings life to this transcendent song cycle.

Reviewer: Bill Rosen