Stephan Genz has the melting phrasing and a good deal of the vocal quality of Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, and those looking for a recording that follows in the footsteps of the king of German baritones may gravitate toward this Swiss release for that reason. This said, the cumulative effect of Genz's cycle is quite different from that of Fischer-Dieskau's. Genz's contribution lies not so much in the vocal sound as in his relationship with his accompanist, Michel Dalberto. The very first song, Gute Nacht, is characteristic: Dalberto seems to set a very fast tempo, but he is actually defining a frame in a few quick strokes for Genz to fill in.
Often his introductions are faster than the body of the song, and the interaction that develops over each song between singer and accompanist breathes with unusual flexibility. In a few places, such as the famed Der Lindenbaum (track 5), it's hard to get the mood that seems basic to the song, and as the cycle goes on it only intermittently has the simple inevitability that Fischer-Dieskau's had. But many individual songs, including the bleak final Der Leiermann and the harmonically shocking Auf dem Flusse (track 7), are arresting in their discursive, detailed approach. Claves' studio sound is very well-suited to the performance, and this is overall a recommended winter's journey.