Anne Sofie von Otter, now 68 years of age, retains much of her lyric mezzo-soprano voice.  The beautiful timbre is there as are her musicianship, her musicality, her technical ease, and her incisive way with words.

I would have loved to have listened to and reviewed a recording of Ms. Von Otter simply singing Schubert’s Winterreise, accompanied by the gifted Kristian Bezuidenhout. Truth to tell after having viewed Christoph Loy’s Eine Winterreise, I have no desire to ever return to it for further evaluation, notwithstanding the presence of the great Swedish mezzo-soprano.

The staging of Schubert’s masterful Winterreise by the German director employs many of the often-used techniques of Regietheater. There’s a mix of costume styles, a non-descript set, and acting that often has nothing to do with the text of Schubert’s song cycle.

Ms. Von Otter valiantly soldiers on in an attempt to convey the emotions so eloquently depicted in the Wilhelm Müller poems that Schubert movingly set to music in his close to final composition.

There have been many attempts at staging Schubert’s wrenchingly moving depiction of a person’s journey to the end of life – most of them ill-conceived and unconvincing.  The joy or better, the satisfaction one can derive from listening to the ineffable marriage of text to music that a great song cycle can provide is denied one in Christopher Loy’s Eine Winterreise . That pleasure is interfered with in the unrelentingly bleak Theater Basel staging released by Naxos on DVD.

Rafael de Acha © 2023

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