I have reviewed very positively two recordings of Schubert's Winterreise by baritones -- the Fischer-Dieskau/Demus on DGG from about 1965, and the Olaf Baer/ Parsons recording on EMI from about 1989. Both are superb (I was less impressed by the RCA Quasthoff/Spencer recording). Hotter recorded this version for EMI in 1955, and it is quite different from the lighter baritone versions of Baer and Fischer-Dieskau. For one thing, Hotter is much closer to being a bass than the other two, and his low singing in these songs is solid and chilling. Clearly too, he's scaling down a larger voice than the others possessed, and doing so in a way that is both impressive (technically) and expressively effective in these songs. The voice is beautiful on its own terms, and only in forceful moments in the upper part of his range is there a loosening in the tone -- something much more pronounced 8-10 years later in the recordings of Wotan's music in the Decca/Solti Ring cycle. Otherwise the singing is secure, with an attention to legato phrasing and subtle rubato rather than word-pointing as a way to create appropriate expression. The stance taken by Hotter towards these songs seems to be that of a lover disappointed long ago but still haunted by loss -- the sense of more recent loss, with anger and pain more immediate, that we find in Fischer-Dieskau's version and even more in Baer's, is not as immediately present. One gets the impression of a lover who has been unable, as he aged, to put behind him the sense of betrayal and desolation. There's a haunted, empty quality to the voice, as of a singer leading a posthumous existence, in Keats's phrase -- his real life, or what ought to have been his real life, isn't so much passed as it never happened, like a ghost who has no real life to remember except that moment of parting with the moon-shadows his only companion, as related in the first song (a moment that is unforgettably voiced by Fischer-Dieskau). The "Lindenbaum" is memorably bleak and beautiful, and the more uptempo songs -- parts of "Fruhlingstraum" and "Die Post" -- bespeak a sense of the loss of energy of the speaker, as increasingly in his haunted mind the ideas of winter and aging progressively preoccupy him and lead to almost hallucinatory visitations. By the end, unlike Baer, he isn't a young man confronting with surprise the idea of his similarity to the Leiermann -- Hotter sings almost as a contemporary, a doppelganger even, of the old man. The most heartbreaking moment for me in that final song isn't the "Wunderlicher Alter" -- it's the singer's registration that the old man's plate for donations is "immer lehr" -- always empty. That sums up the singer's whole predicament as Hotter presents it. What a great performance.