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Hugo WOLF (1860-1903)
Mörike-Lieder (1888) [45:01]
Goethe-Lieder (1890) [21:33]
Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (baritone)
Daniel Barenboim (piano)
rec. 1974 (Mörike), 1976 (Goethe), no location given
Presto CD
DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 415 192-2 [66:34]

Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau singing Hugo Wolf must be one of the heights of lieder performance. To add to this, we have Daniel Barenboim as the empathetic accompanist.   Despite the fact that this music isn’t over-familiar, and I’m not a German speaker, the recital proved highly involving and worthwhile. The songs by Eduard Mörike include titles such as Fußreise (Tramping), Der Feuerreiter (The Fire-Rider) and the wistful Verborgenheit (Reclusion). All are delivered by a familiar voice full of nuance and vibrancy and above all the ability to communicate. The Gardener, for me, makes you aware of the line of lieder from Schubert whose massive oeuvre continues to yield discoveries and gives pleasure to one whose knowledge of this genre is imperfect. If it’s the colour of Fischer-Dieskau’s voice that one so admires, such a song as Auf Ein Altes Bild (On an old painting) is a perfect example if one wishes to sample this collection. With his traversal of Schubert’s Winterreise with Jörg Demus from 1966, I am moved by the manner Fischer-Dieskau conveys the romantic; An Die Geliebte (To the beloved) is a prime example. The ability to tell a story is evident in such examples as Denk Es, O Seele! (Bethink you my soul).  

This Presto reissue is, as usual, an exact facsimile of the original issue and is a convenient single disc. There was a 6 CD box of the complete recordings of Wolf from Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau with Daniel Barenboim. This singer made some earlier recordings with the great Gerald Moore but I think it’s fair to say that the 1970s saw him at his peak. It would also be remiss not to mention again the considerable contribution of Barenboim, a pianist that I’ve admired for half a century. He was greatly influenced by Wilhelm Furtwängler who accompanied Elizabeth Schwarzkopf in Wolf lieder. Schwarzkopf seems currently to be out of favour although not with me.  

I hope that I’ve conveyed that this is a hugely satisfying recital. The performance couldn’t be bettered. The recording, which I assume emanates from Berlin, is of DG’s finest and the words and translations are provided. If you want to experience first class lieder-singing from a master look no further.  

David R Dunsmore



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