Zum Liederabend am 31. August 1974 in Edinburgh


The Scotsman, Edinburgh, 2. September 1974

Fischer-Dieskauís stature grows with the years

Fischer-Dieskau and Barenboim: Usher Hall

Strictly speaking, there is no such thing as a definitive version of Schubertís "Winterreise" any more than there is of "Hamlet" or of "Swan Lake." Ever-renewable, it offers an infinitely detailed challenge to heart, mind and voice of its champions. Nevertheless, in every generation, there are a handful of superior spirits who by common consent possess its key. Preeminent among them is Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau. What singles him out from some of his confreres is his relatively long association with the work. Those who, for instance, collect records, have had the chance to preserve a permanent memento of his singing of it as a young man. Others again cherish golden memories of his recital platform performances.

The years have slid by, and in his late forties, Fischer-Dieskau brings enhanced qualities of human experience and vocal control to his task. From such an artist one would expect no less. Yet there is something else as well. Unforgettable as was his interpretation of "Die Winterreise" a decade or two ago, it has, I think, grown less sable-hued - or so it appeared in the Usher Hall on Saturday.

Rejection, despondency, heart-break, desolation are still in the fore-front as they must be, but Fischer-Dieskauís "winter traveller" of today has perhaps shed some of his selfpity, almost as if he could, from to time stand, outside himself and survey his poignant situation with some poor shreds of philosophy.

This is , of course, a listenerís subjective reaction, which takes due account of the marvellous expressiveness of "Auf dem Flusse,", "Der greise Kopf," "Der Lindenbaum" or for that matter "Im Dorf". (Actually, almost any of the songs could be picked out as an example.) And at the last, at the sudden swell of emphasis on the last line of "Der Leiermann," it seemed as though the traveller really could and would continue his journey, that he had acquired some semblance of inner strength. A noble performance by a noble artist, it was complemented by the intellectual and emotional finesse of Daniel Barenboimís piano playing. That too deserved celebration.

Christopher Grier

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