Zum Konzert am 1. April 1967 in New York

New York Times, 3. April 1967

Fischer-Dieskau Gives Recital With Juilliard String Quartet

Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau seems to have a knack for acquiring very special accompanists for his solo appearances here this season. He gave three recitals at Carnegie Hall with Gerald Moore, the famous English pianist who has announced his impending retirement as accompanist. Then, on Saturday night, the bass-baritone sang at Hunter College Assembly Hall with the Juilliard String Quartet and Kenneth Cooper, harpsichordist, on hand to play while he sang.

This resulted from the planning of a program that was unusual enough to be called unique. It began with Handel’s "Dalla guerra amorosa," a solo cantata with harpsichord and cello accompaniment, continued with Schubert’s "Death and the Maiden" String Quartet, and ended with the first New York performance of Othmar Schoeck’s "Notturno" for bass and string quartet.

Strictly speaking, the Juilliard Quartet was not there on an accompanimental basis, but the chances are that it would not have been present at all if Mr. Fischer-Dieskau had not wished to sing "Notturno".

In any case, this work was the important one of the evening. The performance of the Handel was agreeable, if rather casual, and the interpretation of the "Death and the Maiden" Quartet was excellent, but "Notturno" was the thing.

It is a song cycle with instrumental interludes that lasts between 35 and 40 minutes. Nine of its 10 texts are by Nikolaus Lenau, the tenth is by Gottfried Keller. Its ruminations about love, love’s sadness, the mysteries of life and death, and so on, are heavy and cheerless for the most part, and Schoeck’s dense brooding music reflects the poetic thoughts quite well.

"Notturno" was composed in the Nineteen-Thirties, when Schoeck, a Swiss, was in his late forties. The musical style is essentially romantic, but the romanticism extends itself far enough into the 20th century to sound - occasionally - as if it had derived from Alban Berg.

"Es weht der Wind so kühl," which is Part 3 of "Notturno," is the most satisfying. It has something of the nature of an operatic soliloquy about it, and the music is intense and expressive.

As a whole, "Notturno" may not be a strong enough work to hold the interest in a mediocre performance, but as interpreted on Saturday night, it seemed well worth hearing once. Mr. Fischer-Dieskau’s sensitively inflected interpretation was splendid, and so was the playing of the instrumentalists - Robert Mann and Earl Carlyss, violinists; Raphael Hillyer, violist; and Claus Adam, cellist.

Allen Hughes

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