Schubert knew madness. He knew it to the depths of his soul and feared it. And out of his fear he wrote the greatest monument to love lost, to death lost, to madness found. He wrote Die Winterreise, the most hopeless art work ever conceived by the despairing mind of man. Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau is the voice of Winterreise. In small part, this is because he recorded it seven times between 1952 and 1990. In larger part, this is because he is able to transform himself into the despairing lover. Yet Fischer-Dieskau is still the most lucid and most technically controlled of madmen. As Ingmar Bergman remarked on actor Max von Sydow, "If I'd had a psychopath to present these deeply psychopathic roles, it would have been unbearable".
Schubert’s famous Quintet needs little introduction, and is certainly the most famous work named after a fish. The commission came from Sylvester Paumgartner, wealthy mine-owner by day, amateur cellist by night, who not only suggested Schubert use his song, ‘The Trout’, for a set of variations, but also requested the unusual line-up of violin, viola, cello, double bass and piano. Unusual, but not unique, since Hummel had set the trend with his effervescent E flat Quintet and Paumgartner intended to feature the two pieces together in one of his regular soirées.