They’re called “song cycles” for voice and piano. Franz Schubert composed “Winterreise” or “Winter Journeys” in 1828, a setting of 24 poems by Wilhelm Müller in two parts, each containing 12 songs about a young poet walking away, then meandering vainly, trying to leave behind a love who has found another.
In “Winterreise,” Schubert raises the importance of the pianist to a role equal to that of the singer. In particular the piano’s rhythms constantly express the moods of the poet, like the distinctive rhythm of “Auf dem Flusse”, the
restless syncopated figures in “Rückblick”, the dramatic tremolos in “Einsamkeit”, the glimmering clusters of notes in “Irrlicht”, or the sharp accents in “Der stürmische Morgen”.
The piano supplies rich effects in the Nature imagery of the poems, the voices of the elements, the creatures and active objects, the rushing storm, the crying wind, the water under the ice, birds singing, ravens croaking, dogs baying, the rusty weathervane grating, the posthorn calling, and the drone and repeated melody of the hurdy-gurdy. (W. Rehberg, Franz Schubert, 338-39)
Tenor Micheal Lee Smith and keyboardist Mark Robson (playing on an early 19th century Broadwood fortepiano) will perform “Winterreise” at the Pasadena Presbyterian Church on December 29th. The program will be sung in German, but there will be projected English translations.
“Winterreise” by Franz Schubert
Saturday, Dec. 29th, 7:30 p.m.
Pasadena Presbyterian Church
585 E. Colorado Blvd., at the corner of Madison Ave.
Free to the public