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An die Musik
CD1: Schubert: An die Musik, Der Musensohn, Du bist der Ruh, Ständchen, Bach: Ich habe genug, Gluck: Ach, ich habe sie verloren, Mozart: Der Volgelfänger bin ich ja, Fin chíhan dal vono, Brahms: Feldeinsamkeit, Liszt: Es musss ein Wunderbares sein, Strauss: Ständchen, Wolf: Verborgenheit, Wagner: Wie Todesahnung Ė o du mein holder Abendstern, Was duftet doch der Flieder, Strauss: Herr, Graf, Sie haben Ihren werten Breif, Schubert: Das Lied im Grünen, Die liebe Farbe, Erstarrung, Der Leiermann, Abschied.
CD2: Mahler: Vier Rückert Lieder, Schumann: Dichterliebe, Brahms: * An eine Äolsharfe, Mondnacht, Wolf:*Ein Ständchen euch zu bringen, Was für ein Lied, Debussy: La Grotte, Mandoline, Schoeck: Nachruf, Fischer-Dieskau:* Erzähltes Leben (excerpt), Orff: Estuans interius.
DVD video:* Schubert: Am Fenster, Auf der Donau, Des Fräuleins Liebeslauschen, Auf der Bruck, Fischerweise, Der Wanderer, Die Sterne, Im Frühling
* first releases on CD
Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (baritone)
Böhm, Fricsay, Gerdes, Jochum, Ristenpart, Keilberth (conductors)
Barenboim, Demus, Engel, Klust, Moore, Richter, Sawallisch, Weber (piano)
Various dates of recording from 1950 to 1984
DVD-all regions DDD - Mono and Stereo
DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 000289 477 5556 (2005) [78í35" + 71í11" + 28í37]

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This year (2005) sees Dietrich Fischer-Dieskauís 80th birthday. His persona has spawned a marketing phenomenon of its own, with endless reissues, compilations and issues of lesser material. He is, without doubt, a Protean figure, and there will always be a sure-fire market for any new package, however constituted. Because there is just so much material available, the challenge for a listener is to pick out the genuinely worthwhile.

Fortunately, Deutsche Grammophon holds the rights to Fischer-Dieskauís finest material. This three disc set is a tribute to a remarkable singer. It comes attractively produced, with a booklet filled with photographs, though little substance. No texts, of course are necessary with such familiar material. It would have been nice, however, if more thought had gone into the presentation, as the set is held together by a thin piece of cardboard, already starting to fray on my copy. It wonít stand up to much wear and tear or even repeated listening. If any singer can generate a market for a truly up-market, elaborate commemoration, it is Fischer-Dieskau. Perhaps later there will be a limited edition for serious collectors, something really lavish, with a good, original booklet, something to cherish as a treasure. This set seems to be aimed more at the new listener or people who want a brief, comprehensive summary.

The two music CDs cover nearly all the high points of Fischer-Dieskauís long career. The Schubert songs on the first disc are with Gerald Moore from 1969. Three songs are provided to symbolise the three great Schubert cycles, also with Moore from 1971 and 1972. The sole representative of long involvement with Bach is a version with the Kammerorchester Karl Ristenpart, not Richter, not Rilling nor Karajan. On the second disc, we are treated to an entire Dichterliebe, with Jorg Demus, recorded in 1966, when Fischer- Dieskau was perhaps at his peak. Mahler comes in the form of the Rückert songs with Böhm. The selections from Mozart, Strauss and Gluck are fairly predictable, because recordings of opera tend to be less numerous than for single songs. In general, though, long term Fischer-Dieskau admirers will have most of these recordings, and most likely, other special favourites. Inevitably choices have to be made, depending on contractual and copyright reasons Ė and sheer volume of material!

For long term admirers, the four "new" songs will be of greater interest. The two Wolf songs with Herta Klust, for example, are very early indeed Ė Fischer-Dieskau sings with much more freshness than in his more famous recordings with Barenboim and Moore. Issuing this recording as a whole would be a better choice in musical terms than a random set like this. There are two Brahms songs, too, with Demus that are worth hearing. Thereís a two minute extract of the singer reading from his book, Erzähltes Leben Ė why, Iím not sure. Fischer-Dieskau is known as a mellifluous "reader" but itís a little out of place here.

Compromises have to be made when compiling a collection like this. For experienced listeners, however, the real raison díêtre for getting this set is the charming, if short, at 27"43í, DVD of a recital with Sviatoslav Richter. Filmed in the gorgeous Napoleon Room at Schloss Ismaning in 1978, itís a particularly charming performance. It captures real chemistry between the performers, who donít need to look at each other to interact. Itís more evidence against the myth that Fischer-Dieskau didnít move when singing. When he walks round the piano, and leans over Richter to follow the score, he doesnít miss a beat.

Anne Ozorio

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