MusicWeb International One of the most grown-up review sites around

67,048 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

MusicWeb - "A Beacon of Probity and Integrity" - Ralph Moore

Search MusicWeb Here


Acte Prealable Polish CDs

Presto Music CD retailer

International mailing

Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             

Some items
to consider


paid for

Acte Prealable Polish recordings

Forgotten Recordings
Forgotten Recordings
All Forgotten Records Reviews

Troubadisc Weinberg- TROCD01450

100th birthday of Mieczyslaw Weinberg on December 8, 2019.
Renate Eggbrecht has recorded all 3 violin Sonatas
All Troubadisc reviews

FOGHORN Classics

Brahms String Quartets

All Foghorn Reviews



Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger


Discs for review may be sent to:
Jonathan Woolf
76 Lushes Road
Essex IG10 3QB
United Kingdom


Support us financially by purchasing this from

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)
Winterreise (1827)
Benjamin Hewat-Craw (baritone)
Yuhao Guo (piano)
rec. 9-11 March 2020, DA, Kunsthaus Kloster Gravenhorst, Hörstel, Germany

“Come to Schrober’s today and I will play you a cycle of terrifying songs,” said Franz Schubert to one of those who was the first to hear the composer’s song cycle on 24 poems by Wilhelm Müller (1794-1827). That cycle, Winterreise (Winter Journey), was completed just a year before the composer’s death, when he knew he did not have long to live. Indeed, correcting the proofs was the last work Schubert did in life. Like Tchaikovsky’s Sixth Symphony, it is one of the saddest works ever written; any moment of happiness is soon revealed to be only a dream and the narrator wishes only that there were room in the cemetery for him.

The cycle tells the story of the narrator’s rejection by his love, and his consequent wandering aimlessly through a bleak winter countryside for two days, fantasizing and dreaming as his depression mounts. It’s a powerful work, and a most audacious piece to use as one’s debut album. UK baritone Benjamin Hewat-Craw and accompanist Yuhao Guo are undeterred and forge ahead here anyway, with a few serious successes. While the piece is written for tenor, it has been adapted for nearly all vocal ranges, and I find the baritone range with its gravity to be well-suited to it.

Unfortunately, Hewat-Craw takes a fairly detached approach throughout most of the piece. The subject matter to my mind really insists upon a more despondent if not emotional approach. Certainly there’s very little here that fits Schubert’s description of “terrifying.” But if you’re looking for a Winterreise full of quiet despair as opposed to the usual histrionics, this rendition may prove satisfying. Hewat-Craw’s German diction seems quite good, with each word coming across quite clearly.

The bookends of the first song, Gute Nacht  (Good Night), and the last song, Der Leierman (The Hurdy-Gurdy Man), are highlights of the set. The closing piece in particular is profoundly moving, and I’d consider it among the very best versions I’ve heard. If only Hewat-Craw had put this much heart into the other segments, which often come across as perfunctory. But it certainly serves as a fittingly heart-breaking climax to the disc.

Hewat-Craw is helped significantly by his pianist; Yuhao Guo does a fine job of conveying the urgency and emotion that’s often lacking in the vocals. See, for instance, the drama he injects into Erstarrung (Frozen). It’s not a good thing to be overshadowed by your accompanist, especially in a piece that calls for drama and variation in order to keep it from being a morass of bland self-pity. The pianist meticulously observes Schubert’s precise articulations, moreso than most. The one spot where he diverges from the score is in the last song, where he continues to play an acciaccatura (grace note) in the bass after the first two measures, which are the only places where Schubert actually indicates it. I’m willing to tolerate this move, since it does produce a good effect, but it’s nevertheless surprising to hear after the quite careful precision with the score that has preceded it.

Winterreise is a most challenging piece, and it has naturally drawn some of the greatest voices of all time to it. Hewat-Craw makes a good effort, but really can’t compare to the darkly ominous alto of Christa Ludwig or the depths of misery conveyed by Hans Hotter in his various recordings of the cycle. This would make a good substitute for those who find Jonas Kaufmann’s rendition to be too heart-on-sleeve. Hewat-Craw can’t measure up to the masterful phrasing of tenor Peter Schreier, or the quite wonderful English version by Roderick Williams, another baritone. This shouldn’t be anyone’s first Winterreise, but those who collect multiple recordings of the piece may be interested in Hewat-Craw’s more measured approach.

The recording quality is excellent. There does not seem to be any dynamic compression, and the vocals come across with good immediacy. There’s no question from the sound that the piano is a Steinway. The recorded audio of the present disc is much better than the echo-filled set by Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau accompanied by Murray Perahia, which is unlistenable by comparison.

Mark S. Zimmer

Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

Chandos recordings
All Chandos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews

all Bridge reviews

all cpo reviews

Divine Art recordings
Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews

Eloquence recordings
All Eloquence reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount

Recordings of the Month


Chopin Bruce Liu

Ingeneri Volume 2

Mondonville - Titon et L'Aurore

Telemann - French Cantatas 1


March 2022

Brahms Symphony 4
MacMillan Larghetto for Orchestra

Bruch Violin Concertos

Debussy Preludes Book 2

Jan-Peter de GRAAFF
Cello Concertos

La Nuit étoilé
Berlioz. Holmes