Zum Liederabend am 2. April 1971 in New York

New York Times, 4. April 1971  

Fischer-Dieskau Offers Recital At Hunter of Songs of Beethoven

A handful of Beethoven songs stay in the song-recital repertory. Although these are very fine, they never seem to tempt singers to explore the remaining songs, and there are more than 60 of them. That they are worth looking into was one of the accomplishments of Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau’s Beethoven program at Hunter College on Friday night. The baritone had had to cancel one concert at the school earlier this season. This appearance made up for it, at the same time that it replaced a canceled recital by the Soviet cellist Mstislav Rostropovich.

Mr. Fischer-Dieskau, of course, could probably make "Three Blind Mice" seem like a work of art. In a full evening of Beethoven songs, there were bound to be some of less intrinsic interest than others. The baritone made them all sound engrossing by bringing his extraordinary imagination, musicianship and vocal technique to bear on them. If he has been criticized for overdramatizing some lieder, this was a time when his interpretative detail enhanced the music where it was needed.

The basically beautiful songs became masterpieces. One such was the opening "Der Wachtelschlag." In its course, a tiny three-note phrase is repeated. The singer kept varying it through color and emphasis, giving extra meaning to a work of Schubertian charm. The Op. 94 version of "An die Hoffnung" had a range of expressiveness inherent in the music but seldom so completely and satisfyingly realized. The final quiet invocation to hope was like a benediction.

There were songs sung with simple lyricism, "Das Liedchen von der Ruhe" and, as an encore, "Ich liebe dich." There was great élan and sport in Mephisto’s Song of the Flea from Goethe’s "Faust." Mr. Fischer-Dieskau could not touch a work without bringing it to amazing life.

The singer brought with him a pianist who had not played here before, Günther Weissenborn. As could have been expected, his artistry everywhere matched Mr. Fischer-Dieskau’s.

Raymond Ericson

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