on 24 June 2015
Of Fischer Dieskau's recordings from 1956 on Orfeo at Salzburg - just the Heine - to his poor EMI 1962 complete cycle, which is slow and uninvolved and where the songs he recorded as part of his other recitals in the 1950s are to be prefered (including his best Aufenthalt on record from 1958); his well past it "version" with Brendel in 1983 on Philips which is interesting but for DFD collectors only who wish to have the whole arch of his magnificent singing career; this 1972 recording when he was in his mid forties and in his vocal prime, is to be preferred.
It is also first choice over any other recording of this work in the catalogue. Deeper voices, whatever their rich timbre and flexibility and insights, including Hotter, Van Dam, Tom Krause (the best of these) and sheer operatic power in the stand and deliver songs are not as good and will leave you slightly dissatisfied with these songs from Schubert's last year.
Comparable voices from DFD's era (and impeccable German pedigree and tradition) such as the little known Georg Jelden who sings far more directly to his listener than Fischer Dieskau can manage with all his layers of artistry, expressiveness and more refined voice, and leaves a lasting impression. Fischer Dieskau's only real rival in the sphere of German Lieder at the time was Hermann Prey, particularly in Europe, again makes his own indelible stamp on this cycle. Of the versions available Prey and Moore on Philips (the Die Taubenpost is very special) or his 2 disc DGG DVD with the other two cycles are wonderful and should be on any shelf next to this Fischer Dieskau recording.
As with all the CDs in the Fischer Dieskau 75th Edition, the production values are second to none, with first class digital transfers, excellent informative and inciteful (just read the background info in this one!) notes, full texts and translations. They are also well filled representing excellent value for money. This one including some popular songs, though if I was into nit picking, which I can't with this CD it's wonderful, I prefer his earlier popular Schubert song recitals from the early 1960s for EMI - these gems benefit from a slightly more youthful urgent voice.
While DFD with all his resources could never quite (in my humble opinion) achieve perfection in such light but lovely songs as Das Fischermadcen and Die Taubenpost with their under current of bitter irony and frustration, and this Der Abschied though robust, lacks the sheer panache and flair of his live recital version from the Festival Hall in 1967, this recording is probably the best you will find of this cycle.
It is a first choice recording, a reference.
on 8 January 2009
If you look at old records of lieder you will invariably see the name of the singer in large print followed by (in a smaller font) "accompanied by xxx" or - worse - "with xxx at the piano" or - even worse - "with piano accompaniment". Nowadays, although the name of the singer still comes first it is usually followed by "xxx: piano", and often in the same sized font.
That the pianist is now treated as the second among equals is largely due to the work of Gerald Moore. It was he who almost single-handedly made people realise (or rediscover) that in the works of Schubert, Schumann and their successors the pianist does far more than merely accompany the singer. Here he appears with the baritone Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, as he had on so many other recordings. It is immediately apparent that this is a true partnership.
This disc contains the late settings of seven poems by Rellstab and six by Heine. To them Schubert's publisher added the last lied that Schubert composed (Taubenpost), and the fourteen songs were issued as a collection under the title "Schwanengesang" (Swan song). The title of the collection is not Schubert's but it is very apposite. They do not form a cycle as such but, like a lot of early romantic poems, mainly reflect on death or unrequited love. That makes them sound gloomy, but the overall impression is not remotely like the unremittingly bleak Winterreise. And the inclusion of the up-beat final song is sufficient to lift any sagging spirits.
Fischer-Dieskau and Moore were the first (and only?) pair to record every one of Schubert's 600-odd lieder. They have obviously thought deeply about the texts and the music and their vast experience shines through in every note. At the same time there is no sense of routine or merely going through the motions and they clearly love this great music.
The disc is filled out with eight of Schubert's best-known lieder by the same artists. Most devotees of lieder will have one or other version of these additional songs already but that doesn't matter: they are far more than just padding.
Altogether this is a wonderful disc of wonderful music and as such can be recommended without qualification to all lovers of Schubert's music. And also to those of you who don't already know and love this music: you have a treat in store!