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Schubert: Lieder / Fischer-Dieskau, Moore

Release Date: 12/13/2005 
Label:  Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog #: 000507702   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Franz Schubert
Performer:  Dietrich Fischer-DieskauGerald Moore
Number of Discs: 21 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Deutsche Grammophon have been issuing many tributes to Fischer-Dieskau this year of his 80th birthday, but this is one of the finest. All the Schubert songs suitable for baritone are here, including the three great cycles. This means literally, several hundred songs, including rarities. Moreover Fischer-Dieskau and Moore were a dream partnership, both at the height of their powers when these recordings were made. Without exaggeration, this is an indispensable work of reference.

The only real competition is the Hyperion Complete Schubert Songs series of 45 discs. Strictly speaking, though, both sets complement each other perfectly. The Hyperion series has no less than 812 tracks, even unfinished fragments. It includes of
Read more course, the important songs for female voice, like Gretchen am Spinnrade and Der Hirt auf der Felsen without which no Schubert collection would be complete. On the other hand, neither is any collection without the singing of Fischer-Dieskau; he had retired by the time Hyperion created their series. So quite frankly there isn’t any choice. These two pillars are the foundation of any really serious Schubert collection.

This set was previously issued as three boxes in 1992, but in this present format is far more economical and represents astoundingly good value at roughly £4.35 a disc. It seems almost superfluous to review the immortal song cycles, so well are these known, and in this version. There are other, earlier recordings where Fischer-Dieskau and Moore perform the same cycles. Nonetheless, these 1972 recordings are classics, which continue to represent a high watermark. By this stage singer and pianist had been friends for twenty years, and their rapport was intuitive. Both had lived with the cycles long enough to give definitive accounts. Music-making as good as this never stops giving immense pleasure.

The main set of Lieder are arranged in more or less chronological order. This makes it easy to quickly check a particular song. Alternatively, you can listen purely to hear how Fischer-Dieskau and Moore follow Schubert’s development from the angry adolescent Leichenfantasie to the pensive Widerschien from 1828. Obviously, it’s not a linear progression, but you get a feel for what occupied the composer at a particular phase of his work. Among the many masterpieces lie less than stellar items, but part of the benefit of this approach is that you can hear things in context. It has helped revive interest in some of the long ballads, for example. Taking Viola, despite its saccharine imagery, this song has become quite a showpiece on the recital circuit, since it challenges a singer to make it interesting enough to involve an audience for nearly 13 minutes. One of the most brilliant strengths of the Hyperion series is Graham Johnson’s commentary, which lends itself to grouping songs around themes. Fischer-Dieskau and Moore are less analytical and take the songs more or less as they come - though they cannot resist concluding their series with Abschied von der Erde, from 1825/6, which is clumsily mawkish, considering we all know Schubert died young and perhaps not with resignation. Still, the approach follows Schubert’s increasing sophistication, leaving behind elaborate ballads like strophic settings of Ossian, and venturing into a more modern sensibility, such as in the Heine settings.

All other considerations pale compared to the performances here, which are superb. Fischer-Dieskau is still fresh and spontaneous, confidently revelling in the pleasure he gets from the sheer physical experience of singing music. It’s infectious. Indeed, he’s remarkably uninhibited, his characterisations more adventurous and unmannered than they would become later. Moore, too, is wonderfully agile, working with the singer’s voice, each note confident and deft. There’s really little need for a booklet – Fischer-Dieskau’s enunciation is so clear, and his emotional expression so direct. At times, the voice is so mellifluous, that even after all these years of listening, I could barely suppress tears of joy.

-- Anne Ozorio, MusicWeb International
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Works on This Recording

Lied(er) by Franz Schubert
Performer:  Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (Baritone), Gerald Moore (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: Vienna, Austria 
Language: German 
Winterreise, D 911/Op. 89 by Franz Schubert
Performer:  Gerald Moore (Piano), Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (Baritone)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1827; Vienna, Austria 
Language: German 
Schwanengesang, D 957 by Franz Schubert
Performer:  Gerald Moore (Piano), Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (Baritone)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1828; Vienna, Austria 
Language: German 
Die schöne Müllerin, D 795/Op. 25 by Franz Schubert
Performer:  Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (Baritone), Gerald Moore (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1823; Vienna, Austria 
Language: German 

Sound Samples

Eine Leichenphantasie, D. 7
Der Vatermörder, D. 10
Der Jüngling am Bache, D. 30
Totengräberlied, D. 44
Die Schatten, D. 50
Sehnsucht, D. 52: Ach, aus dieses Tales Gründen
Verklärung, D.59
Pensa, che questo istante, D. 76
Der Taucher, D. 77
Andenken, D. 99
An Laura, als sie Klopstocks Auferstehungslied sang, D. 115
Geisternähe, D. 100
Der Geistertanz, D. 116
Erinnerung (Totenopfer), D. 101
Das Mädchen aus der Fremde, D. 117
Nachtgesang, D. 119: O gib, vom weichen Pfühle
Trost in Tränen, D. 120
Schäfers Klagelied, D. 121 (Op.3/1)
Sehnsucht, D. 123: Was zieht mir das Herz so?
Am See, D. 124: Sitz' ich im Gras
Auf einen Kirchhof, D. 151
Als ich sie erröten sah, D. 153
Trost. An Elisa, D. 97
Die Betende, D. 102
Lied aus der Ferne, D. 107
Der Abend, D. 108: Purpur malt die Tannenhügel
Lied der Liebe, D. 109
Erinnerungen, D. 98
Adelaide, D. 95
An Emma, D. 113
Romanze, D. 114: Ein Fräulein klagt' im finstern Turm
Das Bild, D.155
Der Mondabend, D. 141
Lodas Gespenst, D. 150

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