This the final instalment of Christopher Maltman and Graham Johnson's series of Schubert's song cycles, although Schwanengesang is not so much a cycle as a posthumous collection of late songs, ordered to give the impression of a unified study of existential isolation. There's an uncompromising emotional rawness in Maltman's singing in Der Atlas, Die Stadt and Der Doppelgänger that make for very disquieting listening. But it's not all angst: he's sexy in Ständchen and humorous in Die Taubenpost. Johnson, meanwhile, is exemplary, reminding us throughout of the genius of Schubert's piano writing.
Tim Ashley is a Guardian classical and opera critic, though he's also keen on literature and philosophy so you might sometimes find him cross-referencing all three. His work has also appeared in Literary Review and Opera magazine and he is author of a biography of Richard Strauss