"Stefan Hunstein recites, he marks singing only in a few places. The saxophonist Hugo Siegmeth and the lute player Axel Wolf cite, alienate, jazz up and vary the Schubert songs."
– Sueddeutsche Zeitung - Klassikkolumne
Sleepwalking to the self
The Winterreise with Stefan Hunstein, Axel Wolf and Hugo Siegmeth
This interpretation of Schubert´s Winterreise is different. Here, there is no singer, but the text is recited. And the music allows Schubert’s themes and motifs to blaze, but treats them in an entirely free way. With completely different instruments to boot! There is no piano, but various types of lutes as well as a tenor saxophone, a soprano saxophone and the bass clarinet. It is quite an exotic combination on the leaf of one of the most important works in classical music. Is this permissible? What does it have to offer?
Yes, it is allowed. If it is a serious interpretation and not a funny little game. And yes, it does have something to offer, a great deal in fact, if the outcome is like the one here. It was not a surrogate or an alternative to the magnificent songs by Franz Schubert to Wilhelm Müller’s poem cycle that the two musicians Hugo Siegmeth (wind instruments) and Axel Wolf (lutes) and the actor and reciter Stefan Hunstein had in mind, but a homage to this profound work of art with its sometimes painfully beautiful music. The three performers pace the stages of this thrilling journey to the self in their very own way.
Die Winterreise is about human existence, about a redefinition of one position after a setback. A rejected outcast reflects on his life, surrounded by cold and darkness. Axel Wolf and Hugo Siegmeth have been fascinated by the work for a long time. And some day, it was clear, they wanted to relate Die Winterreise in their own musical diction. The lutenist hails from Early Music and the saxophonist from jazz, and in different programmes (also released on CD by Oehms), they have already fused their musical worlds with a great deal of feeling and instinct.
With Stefan Hunstein, the two musicians form an intensely charged trio. In this case, this is the true wording, for these recordings were not made like those of an instrumental trio. Hunstein did not recite the texts separately, but ‘live’ to the music, and the two musicians responded to his respective tone spon- taneously. This produced an immediately palpable vitality and an emphatic vehemence: Die Winterreise as a radio play with music and a text full of highly emotional moments is the outcome of this tangible spontaneity.
Roland Spiegel, BR-Klassik
This paraphrase sounds less oblique than expected - and is artistically as high-quality as it is exciting. A new and very distinctive examination of the Müller
texts as well as Schubert music.
Pizzicato, Oktober 2020