Schubert: Winterreise

Andrew Murray
The Weekend Australian Review (Australia)

Why produce a new recording of a piece already over-represented on the classical music market? This must have been the subject of considerable debate by the eclectic Australian label Melba before its release of Steve Davislim’s interpretation of Schubert’s Winterreise (Winter’s Journey). Happily, here is something quite fresh. Davislim is an expressive Australian tenor whose voice brings a welcome touch of brightness to a sombre piece often rendered all the more funereal by venerable baritones such as Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and Hans Hotter. But that is not to say that Davislim drains the work of its enchanting melancholy. Instead, he recounts the more congenial songs, such as Fruhlingstraum (Dream of Spring), with delightful subtlety and brings welcome colour to the more oppressive ones, for example, Irrlicht (Will o’ the Wisp). Nor does he shy away from injecting an almost ugly bitterness when called for in pieces such as Die Krahe (The Crow). Anthony Romaniuk’s piano accompaniment is pleasing, if self-effacing: the more reason for the listener to focus on Davislim’s compelling interpretation.