Hermann Prey is not considered bon ton in classical music circles. He’s too much effect, too little substance, for many. I don’t think I have many other recordings of him, so I cannot be the judge of that. I do like this recording though. I have heard many recordings of this famous song cycle of Schubert, but this one stands out for me.
Winterreise is a story in 24 poems by Wilhelm Müller. It tells the story of a lost love, and the wanderings of the main protagonist because of it. As he is pining for her, he comes across different scenes, and they all seem to relate to what he lost. The path leads him deeper and deeper into misery, and eventually he is asking a man playing a hurdy-gurdy if he can accompany him on his songs.
While writing the work Schubert was in a very bad state. He contracted syphilis some years earlier, and never recovered. In fact, as he was composing his Winterreise, he was dying. It would be his last work. On November 19 1828 the great composer died, aged 31.