Album detail
Catalogue number: SU 4243-2

A key work by Franz Schubert performed by the outstanding Czech bass Jan Martiník with the piano accompaniment provided by David Mareček, the current executive director of the Czech Philharmonic, will be released by Supraphon on Friday, 21 September 2018 on CD and in digital formats.

The Austrian composer Franz Schubert wrote his song cycle Winterreise (Winter Journey) in 1827 a year before his death. Winterreise represents the pinnacle of Lieder creation of the early Romantic Era. Spanning an arch of 24 mostly balladic songs, the text of the cycle treats contrasting themes of love and betrayal against the background of a winter landscape and reminiscences about the beauty of nature during more pleasant seasons. The outstanding Czech baritone Jan Martiník performed Schubert’s song cycle in collaboration with the pianist David Mareček, who discussed what it was about Schubert’s work that so enchanted him that he decided to record it with Jan Martiník: “For the performer, Schubert’s Win­terreise is an inexhaustible source of almost unearthly beauty, but also of constant searching. The more deeply you immerse yourself in it, the more distant the horizon appears to be. Our decision to record the cycle was spontaneous because Jan Martiník has been involved with this extraordinary work since the beginning of his vocal career, while Schubert is one of the composers to whom I feel the closest, with his inimitable pianistic speech. Schubert’s musical language embodies a combination of greatness and intimacy more naturally than perhaps that of any other composer.”

The bass Jan Martiník is one of those rare singers to possess a big, colourful voice as well as boundless sensitivity for the intimacy of Lieder. His laurels from competitions (2007 finalist at Placido Domingo’s com­petition “Operalia”, 2009 winner of the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World Lieder Prize) and experiences on operatic stages (including appearances as a soloist at the Staatsoper Unter den Linden in Berlin) merely serve to confirm his extraordinary disposition. “The search for one’s ‘own’ Winterreise is a lifelong pilgrimage for every performer, a pilgrimage that transforms itself as one ages and gains experience and that basically never ends,” said Jan Martiník, commenting on his approach to Schubert’s music, and David Mareček added: “The difficulty with Schubert lies in his simplicity. Schubert is capable of expressing the most powerful emotions by the simplest means. To find a balance between depth of feeling and purity of form, to build up a violent climax from absolute calm, to maintain tension over long passages, to find the right colouristic and dynamic proportions between the voice and the piano, to polish each song like a separate gemstone, and then to set it within a whole that lasts more than an hour. That’s just a tiny part of the adventure that Schubert’s Win­terreise had in store for us, but rather than worries, the main thing we felt was eagerness to get as close to the heart of Schubert’s music as we possibly could.”