This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.
Notes and Editorial Reviews
This performance is like seeing the most beautiful person in the world in the noon sunlight. One involuntarily looks for the flaws, though there are none to be found.
EMI speaks the truth in saying that this is one of the "great recordings of the century." In the proliferation of recordings of this cycle, including the later versions by Fischer-Dieskau himself, this 1955 performance is without equal. History, as well as the inner life of the artist, has much to do with this. The blight that overran the spirit of postwar German culture had not completely settled in, and Fischer-Dieskau was in full possession of a technique that allowed his ample and beautiful voice to do what he bid it to do. Genius is a
dangerous word, but one encounters genius here, and it must be acknowledged. This mysterious element seems to direct the intelligence and technical mastery of the singer, and it is daunting to attempt any kind of description of its result. I am reminded of Thomas Mann's reference in The Magic Mountain to "Der Lindenbaum," the fifth song of this cycle: "The love felt for such a creation betrays something of the person who cherishes it, characterizing his relation to that broader world which, consciously or unconsciously he loves along with the thing itself." Perhaps the listener's acute awareness of this singer's relationship to that "broader world" is evidence of his genius. As well, Fischer-Dieskau's instinct for the dramatic proportions of the cycle is unerring. His ability to bring one into sympathy with the broken heart of a young boy, and to make believable the sometimes-strained drama of his wanderings, seems to come from a source deeper than intelligence and technique.
It is regrettable that the quality of genius and instinct, so pronounced in this early recording, seems to have given way year by year, to the artist's compulsion to understand and codify the magic in his singing. This ever-increasing preoccupation with the letter of the law precluded and diminished, in direct proportion, the presence of the actual spirit of the law, until the songs he sang in later times conveyed little life or expression. However, in 1955 Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau made one of the great recordings of the century. The playing of Gerald Moore is remarkable as well. Although as a personality in his own right he is not as expressive in introductions, postludes, and other solo passages as later artists such as Geoffrey Parsons or Graham Johnson, he is, as an ensemble player, at one with Fischer-Dieskau's voice and temperament. It might also be said that he never contributes his own vision, but faithfully supports the intent of the singer.
From the standpoint of technical engineering, the microphones are just a bit too close and the ambience of the room just a bit too dry. One hears everything, but it is like seeing the most beautiful person in the world in the noon sunlight. One involuntarily looks for the flaws, though there are none to be found.
-- Raymond Beegle, FANFARE [1/2003]
Works on This Recording
Winterreise, D 911/Op. 89 by Franz Schubert
Gerald Moore (Piano),
Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (Bass Baritone)
Written: 1827; Vienna, Austria
Date of Recording: 01/1955
Venue: Gemeindehaus, Berlin, Germany
Length: 74 Minutes 36 Secs.
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