Franz Schubert’s tragic ‘Winterreise’ comes to Moody Performance Hall

Franz Schubert’s tragic ‘Winterreise’ comes to Moody Performance Hall

1/21/2022 7:33:00 PM

Franz Schubert’s tragic ‘Winterreise’ comes to Moody Performance Hall

Baritone Benjamin Appl will perform the song cycle about lost love and sad wanderings.

The usual audience response at the end of Franz Schubert’s hourlong song cycleWinterreise(Winter Journey) is stunned silence — then amazement at having experienced something special. Setting 24 poems by the German writer Wilhelm Müller, rarely performed around here, the songs imagine sad wintry wanderings of a young man whose beloved has rejected him.

Schubert was unlucky in love, so these texts would have had special resonance for him. He was also shadowed by bouts of the illness — probably syphilis — soon to end his own earthly journey. Schubert would be dead a year later, at age 31 — earlier even than Mozart.

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8:25 AM on Jan 20, 2022 CST The usual audience response at the end of Franz Schubert’s hourlong song cycle Winterreise (Winter Journey) is stunned silence — then amazement at having experienced something special. Setting 24 poems by the German writer Wilhelm Müller, rarely performed around here, the songs imagine sad wintry wanderings of a young man whose beloved has rejected him. Schubert was unlucky in love, so these texts would have had special resonance for him. He was also shadowed by bouts of the illness — probably syphilis — soon to end his own earthly journey. Schubert would be dead a year later, at age 31 — earlier even than Mozart. Who will perform it: German baritone Benjamin Appl and pianist James Baillieu, in the Dallas Opera’s Titus Family Recital Series. The cycle will be sung in the original German, with printed translations. Appl is a protégé of the late German baritone Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, one of the most famous interpreters of German lieder (art songs). About the work: No composer had a finer gift of melody than Schubert, and it suffuses this cycle, meant to be performed without interruption. The songs are not uniformly sad — happy memories and flashes of (ill-starred) hope appear here and there — but ultimately they confront lovesickness and loneliness. The piano accompaniments are miracles of saying much with few notes. They evoke the trudging footsteps of the opening “Good night,” the windblown “Weathervane,” the drip of “Frozen Tears,” the postman’s horn call in “The Post.” In the almost hallucinatory song, “The Mock Suns,” the piano accompaniment is eclipsed entirely in the bass clef. Finally, in repetitive patterns over a drone, the piano evokes the heedless “Hurdy-Gurdy Player,” a kind of doppelgänger for the traveler: “No one wants to listen,/No one looks at him,/And the dogs growl/Around the old man.” Stripped to barest essences, few moments in classical music are more stark — and devastating. Details 2 p.m. Jan. 30 at Moody Performance Hall, 2520 Flora St. Masks are required for all guests in the lobby and performance hall. $15 to $50. 214-443-1000,