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Jonas Kaufmann - Schubert: Winterreise featured on MPR: New Classical Tracks

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Jonas Kaufmann - Schubert: Winterreise / MPR: New Classical Tracks

For the first time in his 20-year career, tenor Jonas Kaufmann has recorded Winterreise, a cycle of 24 songs by Franz Schubert. It's a setting of poems by Wilhelm Muller that tells the story of a young man wandering through a wintery landscape in despair after learning the woman he loves no longer loves him.

Kaufmann says it's important to familiarize oneself with the subject matter before hearing the full cycle, because its impact can really be depressing. However, he adds, it's also similar to a Greek drama where the emotional experience purges the soul. "I think it's done in a way that you can totally understand what the circumstances are, what the feelings are, the misery, what this person is going through," Kaufmann says. "I don't want to say that everybody has suffered the way that he probably did, but in other circumstances, in different contexts. And I think it's presented in a way from Schubert that is so natural and so human - that's what strikes us so much. And when Schubert was playing it for his friends the first time, they were shocked because they said, 'This is so depressive! You cannot put this out in public because people will commit suicide when they hear it!' " Listen to Julie Amacher's interview with Jonas Kaufmann on Classical MPR: New Classical Tracks.