Though there is a long and distinguished history of mezzo-soprano's singing Schubert's Die Winterreise, the pairing still isn't all that common and often results in something extra special. Alice Coote is an artist who combines beauty of tone with a remarkable nervous intensity, so her performance of Die Winterreise was always going to be striking. She sang the cycle, with Julius Drake at the piano, at the Wigmore Hall in January 2012 and this disc, on the Wigmore Live label, is based on live recordings of two performances.
Coote and Drake establish the tone from the outset, with Coote providing burnished vocal tones and a fine sense of line, combined with a feel for the shape of phrases and a stunning intensity of words. She is ably partnered by Drake and the two bring a feeling of pressing onward and feverish brightness to the opening song, Gute Nacht (Good Night). This continues into the next song as Die Wetterfahne (The weather-vane) is characterised by an almost manic intensity.