Zum Liederabend am 23. September 1968 in London


     Times, London 25. September 1968     


Fischer-Dieskau and Goethe's poems


Goethe's poems have been set by every worthwhile composer of lieder; so it was a happy idea of Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau's to build the programme of his Festival Hall recital on Monday around a poet rather than a composer. I did not - so multifarious are Goethe's writings - provide any discernible thread, but there was a great variety, both of idiom and of mood.

Possibly even too much. The only composers substantially represented were Schubert and Wolf; with none of the others was one able to feel anything of a poet composer relationship . But I would not like to labour the point: partly because several of the composers were anyway not worth fuller representation. The piece by Princess Anna Amalia (with a little Samuel Smiles-like moral) and the one by J. F. Reichardt (also a miniature sermon) were interesting examples of early Goethe settings, though not much more. But C. F. Zelter's "Gleich und Gleich" had a polished, easy sweetness, like embryo Mendelssohn - he was in fact Mendelssohn's teacher. Fischer-Dieskau timed ist ending charmingly.

There were two Beethoven songs, two of Brahms (including the Serenade, which Fischer-Dieskau coloured most exquisitely) and three of Schumann - "Sitz ich allein" done with the lightest possible wit, both "Freisinn" and "Setze mir nicht" distinguished by soft lyrical tone and by the piano playing of Norman Shettler (the unrelieved rhythms of the former shaped subtly and interestingly, the postlude of the latter deeply poetic).

The rareties included an uncommonly warm, charming song by Schoeck, a serious, strongly felt but not specially persuasive one by Reger, and Busoni's Zigeunerlied - a virtuoso piece of tone-painting, brilliantly imagined, brilliantly executed.

The Schubert and Wolf groups included many fine things, with Fischer-Dieskau in best voice, never over-expressing. "An den Mond" had long-breathed, steady lines, and an ending of the deepest mystery; "Meeresstille" seemed airlessly becalmed; "Erlkönig" was appallingly vivid, with the Erlking's insinuating tones, the child's mounting alarm. And in the Wolf group we had a marvellously alive "Frühling übers Jahr" and a beautifully shaped "Anakreons Grab", rich in inflexion, and lovely to listen to.

Stanley Sadie

zurück zur Übersicht 1968
zurück zur Übersicht Kalendarium