Franz Schubert: Die Winterreise - The Canadian soprano and pianist Rachel Fenlon accompanies herself
Rachel Fenlon, soprano and piano
Friday, 29/12/2023 / 08:00 PM / Humboldt Hall at the Freiburger Hof
There is no doubt that Franz Schubert's Die Winterreise is considered the greatest work in the history of the art song. The Canadian singer and pianist Rachel Fenlon now performs the work as singer and pianist, accompanying herself. A rare undertaking that is reminiscent of the original premiere of the work - Franz Schubert himself sang and accompanied himself in a salon with close friends. They once reacted to the cycle with shock and numbness, and in recent decades there have been many attempts to give today's audiences a similar listening experience: beautiful, yet shuddering, such as Hans Zender's Winterreise arrangement or various stage productions.
Rachel Fenlon is now taking a different approach: a step backwards and forwards at the same time. Back to the essence of the composition, which in itself remains unchanged. Forward, because she has deliberately chosen a song cycle that has so far mostly only been interpreted by male representatives of vocal art.
As a musician who wants to defy convention, Rachel Fenlon has been giving recitals for several years, accompanying herself on the piano. The starting point for Fenlon, who has played the piano since childhood but then discovered her love of singing and eventually studied both subjects at the same time, was an artist residency at a festival where she had the idea of accompanying herself in a small setting - just like Schubert. An initially skeptical artistic director heard her rehearsal and encouraged her to accompany herself in concert. Fenlon herself described this experience of accompanying herself as "coming home", and even if the format of singer and instrumentalist in personal union is more familiar from the singer-songwriter field, it is likely to attract attention in the classical music scene and also means an even denser unity of emotional expression in singing and piano playing.
She toured Europe and Canada with the work for two years before recording it on CD this year - the first person ever to sing and play it. Let us experience a performance of Schubert's Winterreise as we have probably never heard it before - and perhaps will only rarely hear it again!