Zum Liederabend am 27. Oktober 1956 in New York

New York Times, 29. Oktober 1956   

Recital: German Songs

Fischer-Dieskau Heard at Hunter Auditorium

The kind of vocal recital that is becoming rarer and rarer was heard Saturday evening in the Hunter College Auditorium. Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, in his only New York recital of the season, devoted himself to two composers and two song cycles. The baritone, accompanied by Leo Taubman, sang six songs from Schubertís "Schwanengesang" and the entire "Dichterliebe" by Schumann.

Mr. Fischer-Dieskauís artistic singing has been heard previously in this city, and his many recordings have attracted wide attention. Thus it was no surprise to behold a quiet, sold-out house hanging raptly on the music. A dignified singer and a dignified artist, Mr. Fischer-Dieskau sang Schubert and Schumann with a stylistic refinement that is not heard often these days.


He is intensely interested in the relation of text and music and he has no hesitation to sacrifice a vocal effect for a textual one. That is one reason his interpretations are so consistently interesting, and is another reason he sometimes has been accused of lack of vocal means.

The fact is that he has plenty of voice, though it is not a sensuous-sounding baritone. The lower range is a little husky; otherwise it has excellent, of a trifle dry, quality. Mr. Fischer-Dieskau, too, is a fine technician. He never operates all out, and there is always a comforting feeling that something is left in reserve.

He had enough vocal finesse to sustain several slow Schubert songs in a row, culminating with "Der Doppelgaenger," that bloodcurdling outburst; and his ringing fortissimo here was all the more effective in that he used it sparingly throughout the recital.

In the great Schumann cycle he fully caught the poetry and drama. When he sang of May, his voice took on a lyric, smoothly phrased quality; when he sang of the blare of trumpets, it rang out like a trumpet: when he reminisced about the old bitter songs his singing too was bitter and subdued.


The "Dichterliebe" cycle is a very personal document, not to everybodyís taste in an era of neoclassicism like ours; but Mr. Fischer-Dieskau decided to go along with Schumann and make it a personal document, which is the only way to approach the music.

Mr. Taubmanís accompaniments were accurate and sensitive. In the Schumann work, however, the accompaniments could stand being brought a little more to the fore, so integral a part of the text are they. Certainly Mr. Fischer-Dieskau has enough voice not to be worried about being overcome by a mere piano.

Harold C. Schonberg

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