Rapturous applause for inspirational performance at Warwick church

James Gilchrist and Peter Seymour, Schubert’s Winterreise, St Mary’s church, Warwick, February 19.

PETER Seymour’s 1988 fortepiano, an exact copy of a 1795 model, provided the most realistic yet sympathetic support to James Gilchrist’s truly inspirational performance of the 24 songs of Winterreise – Schubert’s second great song cycle.

Many in the audience fondly remember Gilchrist’s performance in June 2009 of the first cycle, Die schöne Müllerin, and the standing ovation that day. Gilchrist and Seymour once again received rapturous applause from an audience recognising the integrity of delivery by the most eloquent tenor and an unwaveringly supportive pianist.

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Winterreise is in two parts of 12 songs, based on poems by Wilhelm Müller who died at the age of 33 - probably not having heard the setting of his poems. However Schubert respects the author’s wishes keeping the first 12 intact, adding the second 12 as a continuation, beginning with Die Post – the sounding of the post-horn, the signal for the heartbroken youth disillusioned by love and life to face a winter of restless wandering.

Gilchrist is now firmly established as an outstanding interpreter of Schubert’s work. Later this year he tackles Britten’s elusive work, Church Parables, dauntingly difficult to pull off in a live performance – and he’s part of the team at Aldeburgh. He certainly illuminated this Schubert performance revealing emotional depths, but not losing the colouristic range which reinforces his careful definition of the text.

This was destined to be a 2013 musical highlight - and it was.

Clive Peacock