CD: MDT AmazonUK AmazonUS

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)
Die Schöne Müllerin [65:23]
Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (baritone); Gerald Moore (piano)
rec. 1951
no text or translations included
REGIS RRC1383 [65:23]

Experience Classicsonline

Fischer-Dieskau recorded Die Schöne Müllerin with Gerald Moore three times. He also made versions with other great pianists as late as 1991 when he was joined by Alfred Brendel. In addition he performed it live on many occasions. I imagine that some of those performances were also recorded. The present account is however very special. It is the HMV - as it then was - recording made in 1951. It was the first time these artists had recorded the work, and was indeed made not long after they had first worked together. It is certainly possible to argue that it was bettered by their later versions in some respects. There is however a special freshness about this that is surely appropriate to the cycle itself.
Right from the first song – Das Wandern – it becomes obvious that although this cycle does contain a high proportion of strophic songs there will be no risk of monotony. The changing moods and character of the text of each verse of this and the other strophic songs are strongly characterised. There’s no hint of the exaggeration, fussiness even, that some critics find on this singer’s recordings. The special character of each song is brought out – in Pause the idle strumming of the lute, the miller’s voice in Am Feierabend, the sense of stretching after a good night’s sleep in Morgengruss, and so on. The final song – Das Baches Wiegenlied – is not rushed but is sung as the prescribed two in a bar. This gives it a gentle rocking motion rather than the heavy four-in-a-bar heard from some other performers. Best of all this detailed and perceptive musical and dramatic characterisation is achieved with singing of the greatest beauty. There is no sense of heaviness and at no time does the listener wish for a tenor instead of a baritone. There is indeed a total identification of the performers with the hapless storyteller.
All in all this is a recording which should be in the collection of anyone with a love for the music of Schubert, however many other recordings they have of the cycle. I no longer have a copy of the original disc but what is heard here sounds good for its age and there is no need to be concerned about the recording as such. My only complaint would be over the lack of text or translation. When these can easily be obtained from a variety of websites it would be hard to regard this as a serious matter in this instance.
John Sheppard