Zum Liederabend am 26. August 1968 in Edinburgh

Nord-Stuttgarter Rundschau, 5. September 1968

Leckerbissen in Edinburgh

Von Couperin bis Schubert


Am Tag darauf sang Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau einen entwicklungsgeschichtlich und wirkungsmäßig sehr gescheit aufgebauten Abend mit Schubert-Liedern. Man merkte dem hingerissen mitgehenden Publikum an, daß es nicht nur seinen Fischer-Dieskau verehrt, sondern auch seinen Schubert so kennt, daß es bereits bei den Klaviervorspielen zu den Zugaben heraushörte, was jeweils kommt. Die ganze Ausdrucks- und Gefühlsskala vom "Erlkönig" des Siebzehnjährigen über "An die Freunde", "Der Musensohn", "Der Einsame" bis zum "Ständchen" und "Die Sterne", Volkstümliches und wenig Bekanntes hatte Fischer-Dieskau in die 15 Lieder einbezogen. Er hatte, was seinen eigenen Stil anbelangt, einen besonders glücklichen Abend, von der Zuneigung des Publikums beflügelt. Seine Stimme, mit wenigen Takten bereits Atmosphäre schaffend, scheint neuerdings sehr hell geworden. Der Triumph war so gewaltig, daß er sieben Zugaben geben mußte. Am Schluß brachte ihm das endlos jubelnde fast 3000köpfige Publikum eine "standing ovation", eine Stehovation dar, eine in Großbritannien höchst seltene Ehrung. Sein "Ade, du munt’re, du fröhliche Stadt" war der abschließende Dank.

Dr. E. Schremmer


    Zeitung unbekannt, 27. August 1968     


Two men and a piano fill the Usher Hall

With only two men and a piano, the Usher Hall platform seemes curiously empty after the big battalions of the evening before, but when the first notes of "Erlkönig" sounded last night, the difference in numbers mattered not at all.

These two widely experienced musicians, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau with pianist Jörg Demus, had started a programme of Schubert lieder that was going to enthrall on all counts.

The capacity audience thrilled to the tremendous strength of Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau’s voice, while every pause was made to tell, bringing out the peculiar plaintiveness of German song.

The second half of the programme started in fine fettle with "Der Musensohn"; then followed the lovely poignant "Du bist die Ruh".

Apparently not in the least tired after his magnificent efforts, the singer, and his fine accompanist, obliged the appreciative but demanding audience with another, and another encore.

C. C. H.


     Zeitung unbekannt, 27. August 1968     


Memorable Schubert from Fischer-Dieskau


It is not often one comes away from a concert feeling one has enjoyed a perfection of interpretation and the physical realisation of music beyond the mind’s imaginings.

Such must have been the experience of many among the audience which filled the Usher Hall, Edinburgh, last night to hear a recital of Schubert Lieder by Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau partnered by Jörg Demus.

Schubert wrote more than 600 songs during his short life, and together they make up one of music’s miracles. Last night’s recital was chosen not only to illustrate the chronological development of Schubert’s accomplishment in this particular musical field of which he remains the ultimate master, but also the wide range of human emotions and ideas which he encompassed in song.

First came the apparently simple early songs like "Erlkönig", where Mr Fischer-Dieskau uncannily created the three voices of the boy, the father, and death, and "Gruppe aus dem Tartarus", where Schubert meets epic ideas with musical size. The next group included "Freiwilliges Versinken", reaching far out into the musical future from 1820, the year in which it was written.

Finally the later songs: the sheer simplicity of that hymn of thanksgiving to the beloved, "Du bist die Ruh’"; Schubert’s own supremely lovely hymn of thanksgiving for life, "Im Abendrot"; the atmospheric shimmer of the well-loved "Ständchen".

On some occasions I have felt this singer’s involvement in opera had resulted in a coarsening of his handling of Lieder, a tendency to overdramatise. Last night there were so many beautiful things at which to marvel.

That it is only possible to mention a few - the sustained, hovering beauty of tone and phrasing in "Du bist die Ruh’"; the heartwarming caress bestowed on the strings in "An die Leier"; the delicious lightness which lit up the chirping crickets in "Der Einsame"; and the sheer noble dignity of sound with which "Die Sterne" was clothed.

Mr Dieskau gave us an experience few who heard it will readily forget. His partner, Mr Demus, has a high reputation as a soloist. He is also a most sensitive and poetic accompanist.

M. L.


     The Scotsman, Edinburgh, 27. August 1968     


Enthralling study of Schubert’s lyric genius

Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau: Usher Hall


Some song recitals give the impression that they have been slung together any old how, others show themselves to have been fastidiously planned. No one today compiles his programmes more thought-provokingly than Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, with the result that one has come to rely on him to provide some of the most cultivated of our vocal pleasures. Last night his main contribution to Edinburgh’s Schubert festivities was no exception: it consisted of 15 songs performed in chronological order, an arrangement that proved itself to be no mere academic exercise but an enthralling study of burgeoning genius.

Schubert’s gifts as a song writer flowered early and never withered. It could be argued - it has been argued - that he never surpassed "Erlkönig", which he composed at the age of 17 and which Mr Fischer-Dieskau chose as the starting point of his recital. Yet, as William Mann stated in his programme-note, one was able to perceive a certain line of development, a certain refining process, in the course of the evening. The music gradually became more seamless, more lyrical, more subtle in its ability to stir us.


The programme fell naturally into two parts, with the earlier songs placed before the interval, followed by some of the glories of Schubert’s last six years. Mr Fischer-Dieskau’s eagerness to extend our knowledge of the art of lieder, which has resulted

in recent years in his championing Beethoven’s songs and Brahms’s "Schöne Magelone" settings, was revealed once again in the examples he chose from early Schubert, very few of which could have been known to the huge audience who had assembled to hear him.


Though one would not claim "An die Freunde" to be as great a song as "Im Abendrot", it nevertheless has its own haunting beauty (rather Mahlerish in its hints of a funeral procession, as Mr Mann pointed out) that looks forward to the world of "Winterreise". To hear a performance of it so delicately poised and so perceptive as Mr Fischer-Dieskau’s was, of course, to be made more than usually aware of its richness; and the same could be said for some of the other songs of the period, which sprang to life at Mr Fischer-Dieskau’s touch.


But refreshing and fascinating through the first half of the programme was - and some of its most memorable moments were provided by the performance of "An die Leier", in which Mr Fischer-Dieskau meltingly related the story of the lyre that played the wrong tune - it was inevitably the second half that provided the most consistent delight. "Im Abendrot" was delivered with the most tender golden beauty of tone, and "Der Einsame" (which we last heard in the Usher Hall from the much missed Fritz Wunderlich) with the most magical softness in the verse where the happy hermit settles down for a pleasant dream.

Another token of the care with which the recital had been planned was the way the programme increasingly concerned itself, in the two final groups of songs, with night musik. With the help of Jörg Demus, who had been throughout an attentive, subtle accompanist, the stars in "Die Sterne" shimmered exquisitely, bringing the programme to a rapt close. But not quite; there were five encores, none more tellingly or serenely performed than the final "Im Frühling".

Conrad Wilson


     Daily Mail, Edinburg, 27. August 1968     


A triumph, this Schubert recital

Schubert Lieder Recital by Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau: Usher Hall


In all the years of Edinburgh Festival, I remember nothing more indisputably triumphant than the recital of Schubert songs last night by Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau.

The dignified Usher Hall audience were transformed into a cheering crowd clamouring insatiably for more.

As far as I could count it was, I think, after the sixth encore that they gave the singer a standing ovation, and even then he had to return and do yet another song before they let him go.

Of course, the songs themselves are marvellous. But it is a unique compound of talents that empowers Fischer-Dieskau to perform them with such effect as to rouse this spontaneous reaction.

In a wide career that embraces even the stress and strain of Wagner and Verdi opera, he somehow manages to maintain a voice like a remarkably flexible and well-tuned instrument.


Last night he produced a youthful freshness so apt for songs like Ständchen and Der Musensohn. And though capable of prodigious power, he could cast the illusion of projecting to the back of the full 3,000-seat auditorium in the merest whisper for the quieter passages of Erlkönig.

And with all this went an uncanny ability to change his own personality in depth to match the song. Light and shade, sometimes even warmth and chill, were all within his command.

He was exceedingly well served by his pianist, Jörg Demus, at a big Bösendorfer grand that is a stranger to the Usher Hall.

David Harper


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