Sunday, May 27, 2012

Sunday Classics: A farewell to Fischer-Dieskau


Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau

To fill out the fourth LP side of their 1959 EMI recording of Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde (The Song of the Earth), with Fischer-Dieskau and tenor Murray Dickie as soloists, Paul Kletzki and the Philharmonia Orchestra made this recording of the haunting Adagietto from Mahler's Fifth Symphony.

"Over time, a great many people have written to me to say that my singing brought them to music. They heard me sing, and began to approach music with curiosity, and went on to hear a great deal more. For me, that is the greatest thing. Then you know that there was a point."
-- Fischer-Dieskau, in an 80th-birthday interview
in the July 2005 issue of BBC Music Magazine

by Ken

I mentioned in Friday night's Fischer-Dieskau remembrance preview that a quick-and-dirty count of the audio clips I've made for Sunday Classics turned up some 46, not including this week's. The breakdown goes something like this: Mahler (17), Schubert (10), Wagner (5), Schumann (4), with two each of Berg, Verdi, and Richard Strauss, and one each of Gluck, Mozart, Rossini, and Britten.

In the click-through we're going to hear Fischer-Dieskau immersed -- singing and conducting -- in the musical farewell to end all musical farewells. As a warm-up, we should probably have the customary Mahler valedictory, the Rückert setting "Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen" ("I have lost touch with the world"). It's certainly a beautiful song -- and we're going to get to it eventually (Fischer-Dieskau could sing it very beautifully) -- but I have to say, it's not really one of my favorite Mahler songs. For a composer who dealt so wide-rangingly and unsparingly with the subject of death, this song seems to me decidedly obvious and two-dimensional.

Instead, I'd like to rehash a song we only just heard: the last of the Wayfarer Songs, "Die zwei blauen Augen von meinem Schatz" ("The two blue eyes of my darling"). When we last heard the song, in a preview post and a main post last month, I had my say (or some of my say) about it, so I'm not going to rehash that. I will just say that while a lot of Fischer-Dieskau's singing of Lieder came out in obviously fake-expressive, "Look, Ma, I'm interpreting" mode, when the guy wanted, and when the voice was sufficiently under command for the purpose, he could do a job.

MAHLER: Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen (Songs of a Wayfarer): iv. "Die zwei blauen Augen von meinem Schatz" ("The two blue eyes of my darling")

Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, baritone; Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Rafael Kubelik, cond. DG, recorded December 1968

Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, baritone; Philharmonia Orchestra, Wilhelm Furtwängler, cond. EMI, recorded June 24-25, 1952

Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, baritone; Leonard Bernstein, piano. CBS/Sony, recorded in New York, Nov. 4, 1968



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