Loewe Lieder & Balladen
Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, baritone
Hartmut Holl, piano
Includes booklet with lyrics in English and German to all songs
1.Der selt'new Beter (The Man who Rarely Prayed), Op. 141
2. Der alte Goethe (Goethe in Old Age), Op. 9 (Vol. IX, No.2)
3. Graf Eberstein (Count Eberstein), Op. 9 (Vol. VI, No. 5)
4. Fridericus Rex (King Frederick), Op. 61, No. 1
5. Der gefangene Admiral (The Imprisoned Admiral), Op. 115
6. Gruss vom Meere (Greeting from the Sea), Op. 103. No. 1
7. Die Uberfahrt (The Crossing), Op. 94, No.1
8. Der Asra (The Asra), Op. 133
9. Jordans Ufer (On Jordan's Banks), Op. 13, No. 4
10. Der Weichdorn (The Hawthorne), Op. 75, No. 2
11. Das Wunder auf der Flucht (The Miracle in Flight), Op. 75, No. 4
12. Ich bin ein guter Hirte (I am the Good Shepherd)
13. Das dunkle Auge (The Dark Eye)
14. Mein Geist ist trub (My Soul is Dark), Op. 5, No. 5
15. Die Sonne der Schlaflosen (The Sun of the Sleepless), Op. 13, No. 6
16. Bauernregel (Country Saying), Op. 9, Vol. V, No. 3
17. Der Wirthin Tochterlein (The Innkeeper's Daughter), Op. 1, No. 2
Many of these songs and ballads have a rough sound upon first hearing, but closer attention shows that a gruff voice is appropriate for the characters being portrayed -- an old warrior who rarely prayed, but who now prays for his dying daughter; the poet Goethe in old age; a Count Eberstein who finds out, while dancing with the Emperor's daughter, that his castle is going to be ambushed by the Emperor (all told with a whirling dance tune!); an imprisoned old admiral languishing in a cell far from the sea; the warrior King Frederick calling his men to arms. These first several ballads have a powerful sound, and Dietrich Fisher-Dieskau brings out their drama with his characteristically dramatic approach to lieder singing.
Some of the other songs and ballads have a smoother sound, Dietrich Fisher-Dieskau appropriately portraying characters such as the Sultan's daughter (in "The Asra," based on Heinrich Heine's poem). Also smooth and touching are songs such as "The Hawthorne," the story of Mary's flight and the origin of the Hawthorne, or Holy thorn; "I am the Good Shepherd," based on John X, v. 14-16; the short work "The Dark Eye" ("Rest upon me, dark eye, exert all your power,/ solemn, gentle, dreamy, unfathomably sweet night").
Included are some songs that I have not found before in other Loewe song and ballad collections, such as "The Miracle in Flight," sung with great drama and emotion, about Mohammed's flight and a miracle that saved him, based on poetry by Friedrich Ruckert. Also dramatic and touching is "The Innkeeper's Daughter," about a young girl who has died and three young lads who loved her.
This is a relatively late album of Dietrich Fisher-Dieskau (1987), so the voice is quite mature. But as I have mentioned, the frequent gruffness is usually appropriate to the songs and characters portrayed, and there are several songs that are smoothly and delicately rendered. I found only one or perhaps two songs that I found a bit strident, both based on Byron poems.
Overall, there are some unusual Loewe songs and ballads here, all well sung by the Master.