Zum Liederabend am 17. Mai 1959 in London


     Times, London, 18. Mai 1959     


The Girl From The Mill

Schubert Sung by Fischer-Dieskau


Mr. Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau sang Schubert‘s song cycle Die Schöne Müllerin at his first recital in London not quite eight years ago. Since then he has sung hundreds of different songs ,here and during that time he has gradually enhanced his mastery of voice production, his musicianship, and his power to engrave the rneaning of words on one‘s heart, to a point in his career when he can alIready be caIled the finest Lieder singer now before the public. He returned to the miller and the stream and the fickle girl last night, when he sang the cycle with Mr. GeraId Moore to play for him in the Festival Hall.

The melodramatic element and the unrelieved gloom of Schubert's other song- cycle Winterreise give it a popular appeal (and gratify a singer's art) such that in recent years at least has pushed the earlier cycle to one side. Winterreise deserves its cherished place in the repertory, and the hearts of all Schubertians; but Die Schöne Müllerin has a greater range of mood and emotion. It might arguably be thought a most successfully balanced work of art, since the tide of love does not begin to turn towards the ultimate tragedy untiI three-fifths of the way through, when the miller‘s sweetheart carelessly reveals her fondness for all things green-the colour favoured by huntsmen, one of whom had aIready caught her fancy. As the miller and his girl drift apart, until the moment when he sinks fatally into the embrace of the stream that had brought him to her house, Schubert and his poet avoid the high drama which wrenches the heart unrelievedly in Winterreise; but this tragic unfolding of a Iittle Iife’s end yields nothing in pathos or dignity – nor indeed in subtlety - to its quasi-sequel. The ghostly lullaby of the stream, in the last song of the cycle, has a frightening grandeur and intimacy that belong with the most moving things in all music.

If we dwell on the work itself, that is because Mr. Fischer-Dieskau and Mr. Moore forced their audience to do so. There was virtuosity in the pace and briIliant violence that they gave to "Der Jäger"; there were tours de force of inflexion and emphasis in their treatment of the several strophic songs; one could remark Mr. Fischer-Dieskau‘s use of staccato delivery for the typical Schubertian rhythm, and of shaded legato for the equaIly typical cantabile Schubert; one could single out many and many eloquent moments in Mr. Moore‘s piano playing - there is nothing subordinate nor mechanical even in Schubert's accompanimental patterns, when Mr. Moore is there to play them.

The two are an interpretative match for one another. When their task is, as it was here, obviously close to all that they hold dear in music, their own virtues are fused in the realization of the music. They carried us from careless, energetic manhood, sound in wind and limb, through the quiet ecstasy of love requited, to ultimate despair, death, and the tranquilIity of undying nature. As so often, they made the passage an experience that left the passenger numb, spirituaIly blanched, and inarticulate. It was disurbing to discover that they could go on and perform "Nachtviolen" when it was all over, as though the poor drowned boy had never existed; after "Des Baches Wiegenlied" there is surely nothing to add, even as a codicil.


     Daily Telegraph, London, Datum unbekannt     




SCHUBERT'S "Schöne Müllerin" songs, sung by Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau at the Festival Hall last night, present a challenge to a singer in some ways even greater than that of "Die Winterreise".

In many cases their strophic form and extreme simplicity of musical language involve the singer in repeating phrases of alarming naivety or even a bare arpeggio figure as many as 16 times, as in "Morgengruss" or "Des Müllers Blumen."

Fischer-Dieskau never made the mistake of trying to add spurious musical or dramatic interest to these truly rustic songs. His almost conversational tone was onIy varied by the slightest inflections and he allowed pure verbal enunciation to Ido the rest.

In the more disturbed and musically elaborate songs, on the other hand-particularly "Der Neugierige" and "Pause" - he employed a greater variety of tone colour and achieved a concentrated significance, a sense of pathos or despair by the true lieder-singer's art of minute variations in the wake of tone, of the rhythm or shape of a phrase.


His voice is most beautiful in its darker ranges of colour and in the infinite gradations from mezzo forte to pianissimo, hardening and losing quality at fortissimo, as in the jubilant cries of "Mein".

His encores included an exquisitely hushed performance of "Nachtvilolen" and a finely modulated "Der Wanderer an den Mond."

In GeraId Moore he had an accompanist who perfectly matched his minutest changes of mood, tempo and colour and gave the most felicitous expression to the rippling, rushing or serenely flowing mill-stream.

Martin Cooper


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