Zum Liederabend am 29. August 1970 in Edinburgh


The Glasgow Herald, 31. August 1970

Memorable recital of lieder

The recital of lieder by Beethoven given by Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and Daniel Barenboim on Saturday night did much to dispel doubts on the Usher Hallís suitability for chamber music.

Both performers created the feeling of immediacy and intimacy which is the first essential of good chamber music.

Fischer-Dieskau gave a performance as full of art as it was devoid of pretension and had the audience in the palm of his hand from the beginning.

Fischer-Dieskau remains one of the finest singer of our times - a golden voice, a superb technique, both employed with consummate musicianship which fulfils, with deceptive ease the many expressive demands made upon it by such a recital.

Understanding

Daniel Barenboim proved himself a gifted accompanist in addition to his other activities.

One of the most satisfying aspects of the evening was the fine understanding and co-ordination achieved by the performers.

The programme was of unusual interest as recitals devoted entirely to the songs of Beethoven are rare. His bicentenary has seen a constant stream of performances of his more familiar works.

This is to be expected, but Saturday nightís concert must have been as refreshing for the performers as it was for the audience.

Overshadowed

The songs covered a wide span of Beethovenís career, from the pretty beginnings of the "Mailied" and "Das Liedchen von der Ruhe" of 1792 to the mastery of the late song-cycle "An die ferne Geliebte" (1816).

Beethovenís talents as a song writer have tended to be overshadowed by his achievements in other fields, though his contribution to the art of song-writing was of the first importance.

As in everything he did his expressive range is all-embracing - from the deep seriousness and profundity of "An die Hoffnung" to the deliciously mischievous humour of the "Song of the Flea"; from the delicately controlled cameos of his Gellert songs to the romantic outpourings of "Adelaide".

The value of exploring this rather neglected area of Beethovenís output is considerable. Given such a performance it can also be memorable.

T. W.


   

     The Scotsman, 31. August 1970     

   

Full-value programme of Beethoven songs

Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau: Usher Hall

     

Though song recitals are in short supply at the Edinburgh Festival this year, no one could complain of poor measure on Saturday when Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and Daniel Barenboim gave a generous-sized Beethoven programme and threw in five encores as well.

Beethoven as a song writer is underestimated. His cycle, "An die ferne Geliebte" (arguably the first true song cycle ever written, and certainly one of the most interestingly constructed) and one or two other songs - the evergreen "Adelaide" and "Ich liebe dich" - regularly find a place in lieder recitals. But only a small place: all-Beethoven programmes are rarer than all-Schubert ones, and Fischer-Dieskau earned our gratitude for proving that two hours of these songs are not too many.

Indeed, although he included the bulk of the most famous songs, he could have compiled a second programme from material almost equally fine, without needing to fall back on all those dozens of Scottish, Welsh and Irish ditties which Beethoven poured out by way of business, some of which are good enough to deserve a programme to themselves. A Festival with Beethovenís vocal music as one of its themes, and including also the concert arias, some of the canons and the lesser-known choral works that have been rediscovered this year, could be a rewarding experience.

Miracle of grace

On Saturday, Fischer-Dieskau gave us five groups of songs, starting with "Der Wachtelschlag" and the dark, powerful "An die Hoffnung" from Tiedgeís "Urania," then the six Gellert settings and "An die ferne Geliebte," then Ueltzenís serene "Das Liedchen von der Ruhe" (in an abbreviated version) and "Adelaide," and finally five Goethe settings ending with the splendidly sardonic "Song of the Flea."

To begin with, one feared he was not going to be in quite his best voice: the upper register was slightly less free, less mellow than on other occasions. But soon his tones cleared, and in the tenderness of "An die ferne Geliebte" ("Wo die Berge so blau" sung with a marvellous, dreamy ruefulness, "Diese Wolken" a miracle of grace, and both, like the rest of the cycle, exquisitely accompanied by Barenboim) he sounded fully at home.

Occasionally, as in the last eloquent phrase of "An die Hoffnung" and the relish with which he drew colour from his voice like stops from an organ, one felt that "art" was replacing spontaneity. But it was a lovely sound, all the same, a model of intelligent, expressive lieder singing. Not all Barenboimís accompaniments sounded quite so perceptive as his "An die ferne Geliebte," but in the strong, darting humour of the "Song of the Flea" singer and pianist were in admirably pungent form. Good, too, to find among the encores one of the bewitching little Italian settings of "Líamante impaziente."

Conrad Wilson


   

     Evening News, Edinburgh, 31. August 1970     

    

Sovereign of song in full command

    

A packed audience on Saturday evening eagerly heard Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau sing between a quarter and a fifth of Beethovenís Catalogued 92 songs.

With his sovereign command of diction, control, and interpretation, the question of the Usher Hallís size and suitability faded into irrelevance, with the audience, however metaphorically, at his feet.

In Der Wachtelschlag, An die Hoffnung, six Gellert Songs, the cycle An die ferne Geliebte and five on words by Goethe, he displayed far more of the vocal arts and graces than one could tear oneself away from sheer pleasure to record.

His co-partner was the equally renowned Daniel Barenboim, nowadays starring, whether as pianist, conductor, or on Saturday as accompanist in a way not remotely covered by the word versatile.

Duncan Heggie

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