Zum Liederabend am 27. Juni 1984 in London

The Guardian, London, Datum unbekannt 


If it seemed a little perverse to choose a hot, summer evening for a performance of Die Winterreise, the last and arguably greatest of Schubertís song cycles, nobody could complain of the choice of Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and Alfred Brendel to illuminate the work. And illumination is the only word which adequately describes the experience afforded by these two distinguished Schubertians who were clearly united as with a single mind to explore this winter journey which, though almost relentlessly desolate in mood, finally achieves a catharsis without equal in realm of song.

It is true that Fischer-Dieskauís voice no longer embraces the warmer baritonal colours, and that he sometimes forces it. On those occasion in the earlier of the 24 songs, presented here as they should be in an unbroken sequence. He might too, be accused of exaggerating some of the more subtle shifts of expressive word-setting. And so disturbing the natural flow of the music within a particular song. Yet this was a small price to pay for a performance which allowed the audience to become totally involved, and criticism was stilled.

In his own programme note Fischer-Dieskau writes that we must confront and overcome each new despair so vividly expressed in the songs, and he did indeed make us share the confrontation and the victory with him each step of the way to the unanswered questions of the final song. When he sang of the frozen tears falling from his cheeks, they could be felt, as could the chill of wintry loneliness. Such complete communication is rarely experienced and it is something to be long remembered.

Memorable also was the playing of Brendel, which was so perfectly integrated with the singing that one was scarcely aware of the division between voice and piano.

Frank Barker

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