Song Cycles (Fischer-Dieskau, Moore)*

Schubert: Song Cycles. Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (baritone), Gerald Moore (piano). HMV


These 1962-1963 issues represent Fischer­Dieskau's second recording of each work; but Moore’s experience was far wider still. So these cycles are in a sense out of phase. Moore had already attained for luminous perfection from which he was never to decline, and which no other has ever outshone. But Fischer-Dieskau was at a prior stage of star formation. His earlier rather diffuse interpretations were acquiring new substance and structure, These discs recapture that process, and so offer a model for all Lieder singers (including, in my view, the later Fischer-Dieskau). The words are not only beautifully sung; they are also savoured as poetry and enacted as experience, and the delight of that dual discovery is well and truly conveyed, The piano parts are rendered equally well and recreated into as truly, and they have an added aura of mature wisdom.

     As just one sample of the resulting blend, try Kriegers Ahnung (D957, No. 2). The words are an insipid foretaste of Rupert Brooke, but the music infuses them with a heady bittersweet tang which is in turn intensified by a powerfully stirring performance.

     Of course other interpretations have much to offer, notably the Pears/Britten and Souzay/Baldwin accounts of the first and second cycles and the Hotter/Moore versions of the second and third. The Pears/Britten recordings are currently available on Decca SXL2200 (6/60) and SET270-1 (7/65) but the other two set are unfortunately no longer available. Naturally too there will be individual reservations on matters of detail, as AR had about this Winterreise. But only these two great artists have together scaled all three peaks thrice each; and I see this second expedition as coming even closer to the summit than their own more recent venture for DG (2720 059, 1/73) in vividness of interpretation if not of recording; a point on which I agree with WSM.


© gramophone, Feb., 1976 (p. 1368)