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Not available in the USA

CD: Crotchet
Download: Classicsonline


Gustav MAHLER (1860–1911)
Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen [18:17]
1. Wenn mein Schatz Hochzeit macht [4:18]
2. Ging heut’ Morgen übers Feld [4:46]
3. Ich hab’ ein glühend Messer [3:30]
4. Die zwei blauen Augen [5:42]
Kindertotenlieder [24:31]
5. Nun will die Sonn’ so hell aufgeh’n [5:20]
6. Nun seh’ ich wohl, warum so dunkle Flammen [4:50]
7. Wenn dein Mütterlein [4:33]
8. Oft denk’ ich, sie sind nur ausgegangen [3:05]
9. In diesem Wetter, in diesem Braus [6:43]
Robert SCHUMANN (1810–1856)
Liederkreis, Op. 39 [26:31]
10. No. 1. In der Fremde [2:15]
11. No. 2. Intermezzo [1:52]
12. No. 3. Waldesgespräch [2:10]
13. No. 4. Die Stille [1:32]
14. No. 5. Mondnacht [3:48]
15. No. 6. Schöne Fremde [1:26]
16. No. 7. Auf einer Burg [3:14]
17. No. 8. In der Fremde [1:33]
18. No. 9. Wehmut [2:30]
19. No. 10. Zwielicht [3:20]
20. No. 11. Im Walde [1:29]
21. No. 12. Frühlingsnacht [1:19]
Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (baritone); Philharmonia Orchestra/Wilhelm Furtwängler (1-4); Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra/Rudolf Kempe (5-9); Gerald Moore (piano) (10-21)
rec. Kingsway Hall, London, 24-25 June, 1952 (1-4), Jesus-Christus-Kirche, Berlin, 20-21 June 1955 (5-9), EMI Abbey Road Studio 3, London, 10 March 1954
Reissue Producer and Audio Restoration Engineer: Mark Obert-Thorn


Experience Classicsonline

So much has been written about these classic recordings since they were first issued more than a half-century ago that there is very little to add. Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau was the great sensation in the field of Lieder when he appeared shortly after the war. He set new standards in detailed nuance, word-painting, expressiveness and identification – all paired with a voice of immense beauty and power. He went on for four decades, eagerly expanding his repertoire which also encompassed opera and the big choral masterpieces. He even took up conducting – while repeatedly returning to certain works, including the present three, finding new expressions, new insights. Like all great artists he had his detractors, the main criticism being that he sometimes was too explicit and over-emphatic and also, particularly in the field of opera, that he took on repertoire that didn’t suit him.

I have for many years had his remakes for DG of these three song cycles: Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen with Rafael Kubelik, Kindertotenlieder with Karl Böhm, both in the 1960s, and Schumann’s Liederkreis a decade later with Christoph Eschenbach at the piano. They are marvellous readings from a mature artist still at the height of his powers. Few singers have equalled them, let alone surpassed them. Still it is a special treat to hear him in his early blossoming, not yet thirty – well, Kindertotenlieder were actually recorded three weeks after his thirtieth birthday. And he had such a sappy voice and a superb lightness of touch, qualities that he retained marvellously intact until late in his career though inevitably one can detect a degree more effort in later years.

My intention when I started working on this issue was to just sample it in order to refresh my memory, but already in the first bars of Wenn mein Schatz … I was hooked and ended up playing every second of the disc – and then I started anew… There is such magic about the whole Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen, further enhanced by Furtwängler’s conducting, that one gets the feeling that F-D, there and then in Kingsway Hall discovered the songs and was totally overwhelmed by their inherent beauty and emotion.

It is also extraordinary to hear, especially in Kindertotenlieder, how his light and tenoral voice transforms into a black bass-baritone, capable of expressing all the grief and despair of these bleak songs. Rudolf Kempe and the Berliner Philharmoniker give him all the support needed.

The recorded sound has stood the test of time, which isn’t quite the case with the Schumann cycle – or this was my first impression. I listened through headphones and the first chords sounded dim and distant. However, out of the mist emerged F-D with realistic clarity. Apart from some distortion (tr. 12), the sound was good enough to do justice to the music and the music-making, providing one turns up the volume. Again it is the youthful freshness of the singing that impresses and I believe that if these had been his only surviving recordings, they would have been more than enough to give him a front rank position in the annals of singing. Such exquisite legato singing is something most other singers could only dream of accomplishing. His collaboration with Gerald Moore was always fruitful and this recording is no exception.

Readers who lack these recordings should immediately rectify this want, now that they are available at budget price. I also look forward to further explorations of Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau’s early catalogue. There are riches aplenty.

Göran Forsling 

see also Review by Julie Williams 



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