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Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau sings Lieder
Franz SCHUBERT (1797 – 1828)
Schwanengesang, D957
1. Liebesbotschaft [2:41]
2. Der Atlas [2:04]
3. Ihr Bild [3:02]
4. Das Fischermädchen [2:09]
5. Die Stadt [2:49]
6. Am Meer [4:24]
7. Taubenpost [3:33]
Die schöne Müllerin, D795
8. Am Feierabend [2:54]
9. Trock’ne Blumen [4:29]
10. Nacht und Träume, D827 [3:28]
Robert SCHUMANN (1810 – 1856)
Liederkreis, Op. 39
11. In der Fremde [1:53]
12. Waldesgespräch [2:06]
13. Mondnacht [3:33]
14. Schöne Fremde [1:20]
15. Auf einer Burg [3:22]
16. Wehmut [2:11]
17. Im Walde [1:21]
18. Frühlingssehnsucht [1:13]
Johannes BRAHMS (1833 – 1897)
19. Feldeinsamkeit [4:06]
20. Auf dem See [2:47]
21. Abenddämmerung [4:37]
22. Alte Liebe [3:31]
23. Verzagen [2:59]
24. Regenlied [4:36]
Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (baritone); Günther Weissenborn (piano) (1-3, 5-7, 11-18), Gerald Moore (piano) (4, 8-10), Jörg Demus (piano) (19-24)
rec. London 1951 (4, 8-10), in Cologne 1954 (1-2, 5-7), 1955 (11-18); 1958 (19-24)
REGIS RRC 1313 [73:22]

Experience Classicsonline

Each time I listen to a recording with Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau there is always a lot to marvel at. Occasionally he can overdo accents and sometimes resort to barking, but there is always a thought behind and the sheer presence of his singing makes him so alive, even though his readings are characterized by deep consideration and planning. That’s art in itself: to sound improvisatory and spontaneous when every nuance, every inflexion is carefully worked out.

On this disc we encounter him during roughly the first phase of his career, though even when the earliest songs were recorded he was an experienced artist – in spite of his age. He had made his mark several years earlier, both as a Lieder singer and in the opera house, and after he had married in 1949 he spent that summer in Salzburg, where Furtwängler was deeply impressed by him, hearing him in Brahms’ Vier ernste Gesänge, which he recorded that autumn. In 1951 he had made his first Lieder recital in Vienna and sang Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen in Salzburg, with Furtwängler, who then recorded the songs with him and engaged him to sing Kurwenal in the famous recording of Tristan und Isolde. In 1951 he also sang in London and recorded for the first time with Gerald Moore, four songs of which are included here (tr. 4, 8, 9 & 10). He returned to these songs later on, not least Die schöne Müllerin, and who can say for sure that one of his versions of that cycle or other cycles is the best. What is beyond doubt is that his voice was at its freshest and his approach – seemingly – the most spontaneous.

Three later when he recorded Schwanengesang for WDR in Cologne with the legendary Günther Weissenborn at the piano, he is already the supreme master, not yet 30 and in total command of his vocal and interpretative resources. His hairpin dynamics, his sensitive pianissimo and his colouring of the voice to mirror the poems are as admirable as on any recording I have heard. What impresses even more is, however, his dark voluminous bass-baritone, for which there doesn’t seem to exist any limits. On the one hand he has that lyrical instrument, related to the French baryton-martin, on the other he could compete with Hans Hotter for volume and depth. Der Atlas (tr. 2) is as good example as any, But I could pick any song and feel that it has probably never been better sung. Am Meer (tr. 6) is a great favourite.

A year later he recorded, for the same radio station, Schumann’s Liederkreis Op. 39, and my only regret is that only eight of the twelve songs are included here. I have long admired his later DG recording with Christoph Eschenbach for its perfect balance between maturity and youthfulness, but this 1955 recording is just as superb.

The concluding group of six Brahms songs were recorded three years later and were originally issued on an LP, entitled Ein Johannes Brahms-Liederabend: Rückschau und Heimweh in den Gesängen der späteren Zeit (DG 18 504 LPM / 138 011 SLPM). With the ever reliable Jörg Demus at the piano this is as deeply probing a reading as he ever did, and again it’s a pity there wasn’t room for the complete programme.

Sound quality varies but it is never less than satisfactory, also in the earliest sides from 1951, and the disc is a marvellous introduction to the art of Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, for those who are not familiar with him, but also an ideal addition for those who only own his later recordings. There is no better Lieder singing to be found anywhere on records.

Göran Forsling