Notes and Editorial Reviews
These performances may never be surpassed for their many insights into the meaning, often equivocal, of these many-faceted songs - a consummate achievement.
The Spanish Songbook contains some of Wolf's most inspired songs—and a few that are among his weakest. He stretches here over a broad canvas of feeling and mood, with the unifying theme of passion, either religious or romantic, possibly occasioned by his attachment to Melanie KOchert at the time of composition. It is surprising that the set has been recorded complete only this one time, although Seefried and Waechter made a most desirable LP for DG, long deleted, of about half the collection, and Fischer-Dieskau himself made an LP of most of the songs he undertakes
here for EMI back in 1958, many of the readings being a shade preferable to those encountered here.
Having said that I must declare that this recording, far too long out of the catalogue in its LP form, should be on the shelves of all Lieder lovers, because I doubt if, as a whole, these performances will ever be surpassed for their many insights into the meaning, often equivocal, of these many-faceted songs. Both artists were in excellent voice 20 and more years ago, and each brings his or her specific gifts, well enough known, to bear on their respective offerings. She is occasionally too coy ("Mogen alle bOsen Zungen" for instance), he is occasionally too forceful ("Treibe nur mit Lieben Spott"), but these are very much the exceptions in what is a consummate achievement. Try Fischer-Dieskau in the four great, sad pieces beginning with "Alle gingen, Herz, zur Ruh", try Schwarzkopf in "Mühvoll komm ich" and you will hear the very epitome of intelligent Lieder singing, faultlessly executed.
In his May 1968 review (well worth looking up if you have back numbers) Alec Robertson pointed out that the pianist has the most to do in this songbook: his role isn't only equal to that of the singers but also of appreciable difficulty. No more cogent memorial to Gerald Moore could be found than his contribution here, where he shows a mastery of all sorts of pianistic complexities and an understanding , inborn, of Wolf's idiosyncratic style. As AR pointed out, it is a pity the piano is backward in relation to the voices, something that cannot now be corrected. Otherwise the recording is as gratifying to the ear as one could wish.
-- Gramophone [3/1989, reviewing DG 423934] A.B.
Works on This Recording
Spanisches Liederbuch by Hugo Wolf
Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (),
Elisabeth Schwarzkopf (),
Gerald Moore (Piano)
Written: 1889-1890; Vienna, Austria
Date of Recording: 12/1966-01/1967
Venue: Ufa-Tonstudio, Berlin, Germany
Length: 94 Minutes 9 Secs.
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