Zum Konzert am 4. September 1970 in Edinburgh
Glasgow Herald, 5. September 1970
Lively and unusual concert
London Philharmonic Orchestra, Usher Hall
One of the major features of this Edinburgh Festival is its lively and often rather unusual programme-planning. Last nightís concert in the Usher Hall by the London Philharmonic Orchestra under Carlo Maria Giulini was yet another example of this welcome trend.
The concert opened with the most familiar of the eveningís offerings - Symphony No. 99 in E Flat by Haydn. [Ö]
The concert ended with Schumannís "Rhenish" Symphony, the last of his four works in this form (through it is listed as No. 3).[Ö]
Between these symphonies came Mahlerís "Kindertotenlieder" written by the poet Friedrich RŁckert following the deaths of two of his children in an epidemic and set with heart-rending sympathy and perception by Mahler. This was the highlight of the evening.
These five dark-hued tragic songs were superbly sung by Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and sensitively handled by Giulini in a way which never allowed the emotions inherent in the work to degenerate into morbidity or selfindulgence.
The orchestra, despite some rather ragged edges from time to time, responded well to Mahlerís restrained chamber music textures to produce a memorable performance of this most moving and haunting work.
The Scotsman, 5. September 1970
Toscanini-like clarity in Schumann symphony
London Philharmonic Orchestra: Usher Hall
Originally, the LPOís two concerts were
to have been conducted by George Szell; but when Szell fell ill Giulini
agreed to take them over more or less intact, the only change being the
substitution last night of Haydnís 99th symphony for Brahmsís Tragic Overture.
In a programme that also included Mahlerís
"Kindertotenlieder" with Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau as soloist it seemed a sensible change, making the first half of the evening less dark-hued than it would otherwise have been.
Giuliniís repertory is known for its smallness and for the devotion he seems to bring to every particle of it (to minor Ravel just as much as to major Beethoven). One assumes he has conducted Mahler before, though less often, perhaps, than Schumannís "Rhenish" symphony which followed the "Kindertotenlieder" last night. Beautifully though he shaped the accompaniments, the music did not flow quite so spontaneously or so affectingly as it can do when a conductor has Mahler in his bones; and the fact that there were some little moments of unease (particularly in the first song), and moments when voice and accompaniment seemed not quite perfectly matched, suggested that the performance had not had all the rehearsal time it needed.
But since the voice was Fischer-Dieskauís there were some memorable, incomparable touches. He has sung the "Kindertotenlieder" in Edinburgh before, and recorded them, and he brings many special, personal features to his performance of them - the bleak, stricken, hollow tones in which he begins "Wenn dein MŁtterlein," the fierce flick he gives the repeated word "Wetter" in the last song. But on the whole, this time, for all its passing beauties, it was a performance which fell just a little short of what one had hoped for from this singer and this conductor.
Evening News, Edinburgh, 5. September 1970
Noble playing as soloist enthralls
Making the first of their two Festival appearances last night in the Usher Hall, the London Philharmonic Orchestra immediately gave notice of their soundness of heart and quality in a performance of Haydnís 99th Symphony that, though a little mannered here and there, emerges bright and neatly turned.
But the event of the evening, predictably, was the solo part by Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau in Mahlerís Kindertotenlieder.
Few world-class artists trouse such immense and pleasurable anticipation with such regular certainty. One must suppose that even he is bound to have an off night sometimes, but this was not one of them.
And the listeners, enthralled as usual, seemed transported into another world by these deeply moving songs, removed from the mundane concert hall interior, to require recall thereto as they gently and prayerfully ebbed away, to a beautifully finespun and fully sympathetic accompaniment.
If, as reported, Schumannís inspiration for the Rhenish Symphony was a day trip from Dusseldorf to Cologne, then seldom has there been a more artistically fruitful jaunt, either for the composer or the millions including last nightís big audience, who have delighted in it ever since.
And again, for the third time, the concentrated and earnest persuasiveness of Giulini drew most expressive and sometimes noble playing from the LPO.