Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, R.I.P.

I can only quote the blurb available on the Amazon page for baritone Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (1925-2012):
During a career that spanned nearly five decades, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau established himself as one of the most accomplished performing artists of the twentieth century. He is widely considered to have been the finest modern interpreter of German lieder, and his extensive operatic career was noted for fine musicianship and powerful characterization. He has also made important contributions as an author, conductor, and teacher.
Born in Berlin on May 28, 1925, Fischer-Dieskau began his vocal studies at the age of 16, only shortly before being drafted into the Nazi Wehrmacht. After two years as a prisoner of war, the young baritone returned to Germany and soon made his oratorio debut in Brahms' Ein deutsches Requiem, and his stage debut in Verdi's Don Carlos (Posa).
In the following decades, Fischer-Dieskau would traverse an impressive range of operatic roles, including Don Giovanni in Mozart's eponymous work, Mittenhofer in Hans Werner Henze's Elegy for Young Lovers, and John the Baptist in Strauss' Salome; his most critically admired performances were as Don Alfonso in Così fan tutte, Germont père in La Traviata, and Count Almaviva in Le nozze di Figaro.
Fischer-Dieskau's recital career began equally early and impressively -- with a 1948 Radio Berlin broadcast of Schubert's Winterreise; however, it was with his first concerts and recordings with the English collaborative pianist Gerald Moore that his international fame began to spread. Together, the two of them recorded every song of Schubert, Schumann, and Wolf and considerable portions of those by Brahms, Strauss, Loewe, and Beethoven. This catalogue of repertoire is impressive for its sheer size, and even more so for its consistent excellence.
He also made memorable appearances and recordings with many other leading musicians, such as Alfred Brendel, Vladimir Horowitz, Daniel Barenboim, and Sviatoslav Richter. His cumulative body of recorded performances is stunning, perhaps best illustrated by the number of pieces of which his discography contains multiple (sometimes as many as four!) performances. A number of composers wrote works for him, the most notable of which is Benjamin Britten (Songs and Proverbs of William Blake), whose War Requiem the baritone also premiered in 1962.
Certainly Fischer-Dieskau is best characterized by his performances of works for voice and piano, in which his imagination, musicianship, and vocal timbre were showcased to the fullest. 

Like those Italian tenors and other contemporaries like Corelli, Callas, Bjorling, Dame Kiri his career encompassed that great era of classical recordings on long playing albums and box sets, first on vinyl and then CD, which will never happen again as the market changes and shrinks. Most record collections then even if not focused on the classics, contained an occasional classical or operatic purchase ...

I have been meaning to venture more into opera - beyond the favourites I like such as TURANDOT, THE MAGIC FLUTE and CARMEN and Losey's film of DON GIOVANNI or Bergman's enchanting 1975 version of THE MAGIC FLUTE. I also liked Fischer-Dieskau's marvellous baritone whenever I heard it - so now I have ordered a 'Best of'', a 1954 MAGIC FLUTE where he is Papageno, and a recent cd+dvd: AN DIE MUSIK, I can now begin to catch up ...

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