Pianist Daniel de Borah argues that fresh insights and ongoing rejuvenation are essential to the art form.

A fter hearing the recent CD recording of Schubert’s Winterreise by Jonas Kaufmann and pianist Helmut Deutsch, a colleague posed the following question: Does the world really need another recording of this music?

Here we have a much-anticipated recording by arguably the world’s greatest present-day tenor at the height of his powers in collaboration with a masterful pianist, of the most important and monumental work by the greatest composer of songs in the history of music. Granted, we don’t needit in the way we need water and oxygen to survive. But to suggest that such a precious document is somehow irrelevant or extraneous seems to me tantamount to questioning the relevance of art altogether, and in particular the value of aspiring to the highest levels of artistry in the interpretation of music.

It does beg the question though: what isthe purpose of another recording of any piece of music already well represented in the catalogue? How many recordings is one too many? And how do recordings differ from live performances in...