Comments by Ricardo Iznaola: Schubert's settings of these 24 poems, completed in 1827 (a short year before his death), constitute the second of his cycles based on the works of Wilhelm Müller, the first being Die schöne Müllerin (The Lovely Maid of the Mill), written in 1823. Like Schubert, Müller died young, at 33 (Schubert died at 31) and, as with the composer, the turbulence of love, it's joys and exultations, it's fevers and tragedies, flavored much of his creative output. Although the complete collection of Winter Journey poems appeared in a book by Müller of 1824, Schubert discovered, late in 1826 or in early 1827, the first twelve in a previous publication, the Urania: Taschenbuck auf das Jahr 1823, sort of an almanac or handbook for the year 1823, setting them to music months before he found the second set of twelve in the complete collection. Although Schubert, when he first found them, probably thought the first twelve poems to constitute a complete cycle, the two-book cycle (one per disc in this CD set) is seamlessly integrated, in great part thanks to Schubert's masterful balance of contrasting moods, lengths and textures, but also to his subtle handling of motivic connections among the songs, some relatively obvious, but others quite obscured by more prominent surface features. The twenty-four songs become thus a cohesive narrative, unfolding it's lyricism and it's drama in two symmetrical but contrasting acts that take it's protagonist from the anguished anger of his departure, depicted in Gute Nacht, to the desolate resignation of the last song, ending in the grim metaphor of the organ-grinder, ignored by all, another destitute pursuing, barefoot, a life with no future, with no hope... We do know of Schubert's acquaintance with and love of the guitar, an instrument enjoying great popularity in the Vienna of his time, where several performers achieved notoriety and became part of Schubert's circle, among them, Wenceslaus Matiegka, whose Notturno, for flute, guitar and viola, erroneously attributed to Schubert for many years, does benefit from a cello part added by the latter a posteriori, and Anton Diabelli, pianist, guitarist, and the first publisher of Schubert's music, better known as the composer of the little waltz used by Beethoven for his great variation set, Op. 120. We also know that Schubert himself was enough of a player to sketch some of his songs, originally, with a guitar accompaniment. This may explain the naturalness, if not always ease, with which the piano parts of many of the Winterreise songs transfer to the guitar. In this recording I have the privilege to present my guitar arrangement as support and complement to the voice of the great basso Kenneth Cox. The depths and pathos of Ken's reading, linked to the hushed but eloquent expressivity of the guitar, provide a rather unique perspective on this sublime song-book. Darker hues, more poignant intimacy are underlined, perhaps a vantage point more akin to the deep melancholy affecting the very ill Schubert in his last days. Death found Schubert while doing final corrections to the proofs of book two of Winterreise.