Zum Liederabend am 20. Juni 1965 in Aldeburgh
The Sunday Times, London, Datum unbekannt
A Schubertiad to remember
The Fischer-Dieskau recital to Richter’s accompaniment ought by rights to have been another occasion of unmixed joy; but it wasn’t. The audience resembled a party of astronomers who had assembled at a distant island to observe some once-in-a-century celestial conjunction – only to find it obscured behind thick cloud. Everyone would doubtless have preferred, from such a combination, either Schubert or Schumann; most of us would have been content with a well-chosen Brahms scheme.
But Fischer-Dieskau is an evangelist for that square and long-winded Brahms cycle, "Die schöne Magelone," which accordingly filled the evening; no applause in church, so no encores.
These poems, drawn from Tieck’s treatment of a rather silly medieval romance, lack the unity of a true cycle: they even belong to different characters – two of them female, though without the programme-book you would scarcely have guessed it. Brahms set the majority in his heartiest manner, and Fischer-Dieskau sang these in a hearty, indeed positively boisterous style, like a bather encouraging us from a cold and choppy sea with shouts of "Come on in, it’s lovely!" Well, one or two of the songs are lovely, and the performance gave rise to many incidental beauties, both vocal and instrumental; but the residual impression was of a wasted opportunity.
The Observer Weekend, 27. Juni 1965
Greatness gathers at Aldeburgh
If Fischer-Dieskau and Richter did not quite reach this exalted level in the Brahms Magelone songs, the fault was certainly not theirs, for a superb performance, glorious in richness of colour and grandeur of line, revealed the epic proportions of this cycle. But, unlike Schubert, in this work Brahms too often remains content with the outer trappings of romanticism. Ardour is apt to lapse into mere heartiness, and Tieck’s world of medieval chivalry remains a cardboard affair, so that in the end one is left with something uncomfortably like the musical equivalent of St. Pancras Station.