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Peter Schreier sings Schubert’s „Winter Jouney“

Farewell to a magnificent singing career


Schreier Winterreise www











VIDEO: Farewell to a magnificent singing career with Schubert’s „Winter Jorney“
The aura of finality
Dresden again and again
Evangelist of the twentieth century
Farewell to a magnificent singing career
The Dresden String Quartet
GALERIE: Photos of the production

Farewell to a magnificent singing career with Schubert’s „Winter Jorney“

Kammersänger Prof. Peter Schreier im Gespräch mit MDR FIGARO-Opernredakteurin Bettina Volksdorf
Aufgezeichnet im Musiksalon des Mendelssohnhauses in Leipzig

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Franz Schubert  1797-1828
Winter Journey op. 89, D911
Lieder cycle for voice and piano Arranged for voice and string quartet by Jens Josef (b. 1967)
Text: Wilhelm Müller 1794-1827

Peter Schreier
Dresden String Quartet
Thomas Meining, violin · Barbara Meining, violin · Andreas Schreiber, viola · Martin Jungnickel, cello

Part I:
1. Good night. (Moderately)
2. The weather-vane. (Fairly quickly)
3. Frozen tears. (Not too slowly)
4. Numbness. (Fairly fast)
5. The lime-tree. (Moderately)
6. Flood. (Slowly)
7. On the river. (Slowly)
8. Backward glance. (Not too quickly)
9. Will-o‘-the-wisp. (Slowly)
10. Rest. (Moderately)
11. Dream of spring. (A little faster)
12. Loneliness. (Slowly)

Part II:
13. The post. (Fairly quickly)
14. The hoary head. (Somewhat slowly)
15. The crow. (Somewhat slowly)
16. Last hope. (Not too quickly)
17. In the village. (Somewhat slowly)
18. The stormy morning. (Fairly quickly, but powerfully)
19. Delusion. (Fairly quickly)
20. The sign-post. (Moderately)
21. The inn. (Very slowly)
22. Courage. (Moderately, powerfully)
23. The phantom suns. (Moderately)
24. The hurdy-gurdy man. (Somewhat slowly)

Recorded on March 12-15, 2005 at the Lukaskirche in Dresden
Producer: MDR Figaro, Dr Michael Oehme
Artistic recording supervision: Edwin Diele
Technical recording supervision: Anja Bause
Publisher: THIASOS Musikverlag

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«Many a tear from my eyes»  Winter Journey



Peter Schreier and the Dresden String Quartet during the MDR FIGARO recordings in the Dresden Lukaskirche, 2005


The aura of finality

Experiencing Peter Schreier as a captivating boy alto with a voice that pierced the soul, in a recording made immediately after 1945, will have been among the most moving moments in the lives of many music-lovers. Peter Schreier was one of the first singers to return to the choir of the Dresden Kreuzkirche, which its legendary choirmaster-organist Rudolf Mauersberger had brought back to life after the devastating destruction of Dresden. Schreier received special attention from Mauersberger, who advised him to become a singer. Mauersberger was Schreier’s mentor for a long time, though their relationship had ambivalent aspects. Mauersberger long held it against Schreier, for example, that his voice had failed in his altogether premature boyhood debut as Evangelist in Bach’s St Matthew Passion before over 3,000 people at the Kreuzkirche. Schreier did not sing again at the Kreuzkirche until the early 1960s; in 1965, he performed as Evangelist in Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, joined by the singers Adele Stolte, Gerda Schriever and Theo Adam.The recording and TV broadcast was a major cultural event.

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Dresden again and again

In the ensuing years, the singer repeatedly returned to perform with the choir of the Kreuzkirche, his first musical dwelling-place in the city that has been his home since 1945. Schreier had the good fortune to grow up amid the rich musical culture of Dresden, despite the fact that large parts of the city had been razed to the ground in the war. Dresden’s great artistic past was particularly resistant to the trauma.Time-honoured institutions like the choir, the Staatskapelle, the Opera and the Philharmonic all gained added lustre when Peter Schreier performed with them. Schreier’s deep love of Dresden explains why he could never and would never have left the city voluntarily.When giving guest performances in Vienna and Salzburg,Hamburg or Munich, he was always an ambassador of Germany’s better attributes, of a culture dominated by the love of music. Learning of Peter Schreier’s success at many of the world’s leading music venues caused many in East Germany to long for the Iron Curtain to be lifted. Initially he brought the „breath of love“ and dramatic impact to Mozart’s great lyrical roles. Conductors like Karl Böhm, Josef Krips, Herbert von Karajan and Otmar Suitner engaged him repeatedly.Welcome at countless foreign opera houses, Schreier was especially loyal to the State Operas of Berlin, Dresden and Vienna. It was there that his repertoire was shrewdly and carefully expanded to include things like his stunning portrayals of the Wagnerian roles of David and Loge and his remarkable interpretation of the title role in Pfitzner’s Palestrina.

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Evangelist of the twentieth century

The choir of the Dresden Kreuzkirche conducted by Rudolf Mauersberger, with Herbert Collum at the harpsichord and Peter Schreier as Evangelist during a television broadcast of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Christmas Oratorio from the Dresden Kreuzkirche, 1965
Photo: by Hofert at the Deutsche Fotothek in the State and University Library of Saxony in Dresden

Beyond the sphere of opera, one composer has been particularly prominent in his life: Johann Sebastian Bach. Considering Schreier’s immense devotion to Bach’s cantatas, it is actually unjust to concentrate solely on his incomparable Evangelist in the two Passions and the Christmas Oratorio. Nonetheless, Peter Schreier might justly be called the Evangelist for the twentieth century. When in the early 1980s he also began to conduct performances in which he sang the part of Evangelist, Bach’s oratorios attained a dramatic perfection and expressive unity the world will never experience again. It is no accident that a master of musical speech like Peter Schreier also developed into one of the most important lieder singers of all time. He combined vocal and musical intelligence with textual interpretation in incomparable manner.One feels every word and note he sings. Music has seldom been so comprehensible in every detail.That applies to the lieder of Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Schumann and Wolf, and most particularly to those of Franz Schubert. His recitals of Die Schöne Müllerin (Fair Maid of the Mill) are innumerable, and he released four recordings of the cycle. The first was with Walter Olbertz at the piano in 1971, then came the version with guitar, performed with Konrad Ragossnig in 1980, and they were followed by recordings with Steven Zehr and András Schiff.

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Thomas and Barbara Meining with Peter Schreier during the MDR FIGARO recordings in the Dresden Lukaskirche, 2005


Farewell to a magnificent singing career

Things were different in the case of Winterreise (Winter Journey). Peter Schreier took his time before tackling this «difficult piece», which is rarely performed by tenors. His legendary live recording of February 15, 1985, to mark the reopening of the Dresden Semperoper, is a striking debut and a unique document. Sviatoslav Richter had sought to work with Schreier before.The moment proved to be ideal, enabling the two world-class artists to make their joint debut in the world-famous opera house with a key work in the art song genre. In the ensuing years Peter Schreier chose to interpret Schubert’s Winter Journey with András Schiff as a sympathetic accompanist. Schreier returned once again to the studio in March 2005 to record in the Dresden Lukaskirche the version of Winter Journey arranged for voice and string quartet by t he Kassel composer Jens Josef.That was the year in which Schreier celebrated his seventieth birthday and took the remarkable decision to end his singing career while he was still at the height of his vocal powers. Against that background, this recording takes on a special significance.That was palpable even during the recording process itself. Peter Schreier once again succeeded in turning people’s musical notions «upside down» with completely new nuances and ideas. In its entirety as well as in each individual song, the recording had an aura of uniqueness and finality. The first takes were usually the ones that were used. The four instruments of the Dresden String Quartet added new colours.They lent even more pallor and mystery to the air of death that pervades the lieder cycle. The recording is the crowning achievement in the very rich life’s work that the lieder singer Peter Schreier has given us.

Dr. Michael Oehme, MDR FIGARO

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www-heinrich_schreierDresdner Streichquartett

Peter Schreier mit dem Dresdner Streichquartett.
(V.l.n.r.:) Thomas Meinig, Peter Schreier, Barbara Meinig, Andreas Schreiber und Martin Jungnickel in der Dresdner Lukaskirche, 2005


The Dresden String Quartet

The Dresden String Quartet is among the leading chamber ensembles of the Sächsische Staatskapelle Dresden.The ensemble successfully carries on the long tradition of quartet-playing in the Dresden Staatskapelle. The four musicians Thomas Meining (first violin), Barbara Meining (second violin), Andreas Schreiber (viola) and Martin Jungnickel (cello) who make up the ensemble today have been performing at leading national and international musical venues since the early 1990s. Apart from their regular appearances in the chamber recitals of the Stattskapelle at the Dresden Semperoper, they have appeared at venues like the Berlin Philharmonie, the Leipzig Gewandhaus, the Salzburg Festival, the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival, the Rheingau Music Festival and the international Shostakovich festival at Gohrisch. In addition to commitments in cultural centres like Vienna, Paris, Budapest, Naples, Tokyo, Shanghai, Brussels and Lugano, the quartet has undertaken tours of the USA, performing in cities like New York, Columbus, Richmond and Washington. Their extensive repertoire ranges from the Classical and Romantic quartet literature to seldom heard twentieth-century works for string quartet by Erwin Schulhoff, Alfred Schnittke, Krzysztof Meyer, Mieczyslaw (Moisei) Vainberg, Giya Kancheli and other modern composers. The ensemble has premiered several new additions to the string-quartet repertoire. Its performing activities include making radio and television recordings.

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Photos of the production

Peter Schreier and the Dresde String Quartett in the Dresden Lukaskirche, 2005

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