Hugh Canning
The Sunday Times
September 2017

The Presto Classical website lists an astounding 178 versions of Winterreise. I’ve heard many of them, but few as intimate and interiorised as this reading by the Austrian singer—his second on CD, the earlier one with Malcolm Martineau—and the British pianist. Vignoles sets the tone from the outset, with the weary tread of the piano part in the first song, Gute Nacht (Good Night). His playing throughout is discreet and supportive, drawing attention to the detail of the writing without sounding mannered or fussy. Boesch doesn’t have a traditionally beautiful voice—under pressure, it sounds nasal and dry—but his storytelling and emotional response to what Schubert called his 'terrifying songs' are masterly and compelling. That this is a journey of the soul—a trudge through wintry landscapes in a vain attempt to exorcise a lost love—is clear from the start. Boesch avoids the expressionist exaggerations of some interpreters—his Krähe (Crow) doesn’t sound like a companion of the Witch in Hansel and Gretel—and he meets his maker in the final song, Der Leiermann (The Hurdy-Gurdy Player), with a numbed resignation that is as harrowing as it is moving.