It is bleak midwinter. Not the depths plumbed in Harold Darke’s magical carol; more the amber warning variety, nineteen inches of snow enforcing the Covid lockdown. Bad timing for a winter journey, unless it’s Franz Schubert’s Winterreise, a twenty-four-song cycle colossus, composed shortly before his frighteningly premature death in 1828, at the age of 31. Syphilis got him. Our Franz was a bit of a player.

I know, I know, we’re all running ragged from isolation, so why take on Schubert’s “monster sacré”, as the work was described by Joseph von Spaun, Schubert’s lifelong friend, patron and Imperial counsellor? We’ve got enough to cope with, what with recovering Amazon packages lobbed into snow crusted hedges and shouting at Great Aunty Batty to unmute on Zoom, without veering over the cliff of depression. Is that where the doom laden Winterreise may inevitably lead us?

Not when it is performed and dissected by tenor Ian Bostridge. His absorbing 2014 book, Schubert’s Winter Journey: Anatomy of an Obsession, reveals his long-term fascination with a work he considers to be Schubert’s finest. Sharing that obsession is a privilege.