Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau

Baritone

Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau

Born in 1925, baritone Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau trained in his native Berlin until his studies were interrupted by conscription in the early 1940s, and was held in an American prisoner-of-war camp in Italy for two years where he continued to perform Schubert for his fellow inmates. Shortly after his release, he made his operatic debut as Posa in Berlin in 1948 and went on to become an imposing presence on major opera stages, winning particular acclaim as Mandryka, Kurwenal, Barak and Mozart's Count Almaviva but also encompassing heavyweights including Jokanaan, Wotan, Amfortas, Hans Sachs and The Dutchman. He has also championed new repertoire in the concert-hall and opera-house alike, having sung in the world premieres of many works including Britten's War Requiem, Henze's Elegie für junge Liebende and works by Rihm, Reimann and Matthus.

But he became best known as a master of German song: widely regarded as the finest lieder-singer of the last century, his recital repertoire numbers over 3000 songs by more than 100 composers (including all of the baritone songs of Schubert, Schumann and Wolf), and his interpretative originality, textual sensitivity and seemingly infinite palette of vocal colours arguably remain unequalled today. He did much to revive neglected works and the tradition of the song recital itself, and his masterful interpretations of lieder remain a benchmark for singers, pianists and audiences alike. Since his retirement in 1992, his incomparable influence in this realm continued through his recordings, writing and busy teaching schedule.

He passed away on 18th May 2012 just 10 days before his 87th birthday.

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Victoria de los Angeles in Paris

Victoria de los Angeles in Paris


Debussy:

La Damoiselle élue

11/4/1955

Carole Smith (contralto)

Radcliffe Choral Society, Boston Symphony, Charles Munch

Fauré:

Requiem, Op. 48

Paris, Eglise Saiot-Roch 1963

Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (baritone) & Henriette Puig-Roget (organ)

Choeurs Elisabeth Brasseur, Orchestre des Concerts du Conservatoire de Paris

Ravel:

Shéhérazade

Paris, Salle Wagram, 20/2/1962

Claude Monteux (flute)

Orchestre des Concerts du Conservatoire de Paris, Georges Prêtre

Cinq mélodies populaires grecques

Salle Wagram, 20/2/1962

Orchestre des Concerts du Conservatoire de Paris, Georges Prêtre


Fauré’s Requiem, displays in its seven ‘stations’ not a path of affliction and agony, but a joyful resurrection. Curiously its harmonies fit comfortably into the Fauve atmosphere of 'La Damoiselle Elue' and Ravel's 'Scheherezade'. Finally all negativity is dispelled by the vivaciousness of amorous angels in the Greek Mélodies. It is hard to imagine a more purely beautiful voice than that of Victoria de los Angeles at the height of her career in the 1950s and early 1960s. Combined with charm and a delightful persona her enchanting voice is by turns seraphic, disquieting and limpid in timbre, recorded in Paris and Boston 1955-63. A fitting tribute from Praga Digitals to the much-loved lyric soprano who died in 2005.

Remastered and edited by Karel Soukenik, Studio Domovina, Prague

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Schubert: Winterreise D911

Schubert: Winterreise D911

Live from the Siemensvilla, Berlin, 1979


Franz Schubert’s song cycle Winterreise was written late in his life. It is regarded both as a highlight of the genre and as the touchstone by which lieder singers are judged. To succeed in interpreting Winterreise is the artistic equivalent of a patent of nobility for a singer. The song cycle certainly became one of Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau’s calling cards and it is probably this work that made the baritone an international household name. Time and again his interpretation could be heard in the concert hall, at festivals, on the radio and on numerous records. In this recording made for the Sender Freies Berlin in January 1979, we see two of the leading musicians of their day in the prime of their lives and at the very peak of their art and experience appearing together in the service of Schubert’s Winterreise. Both the experienced Schubert lieder singer and the Austrian pianist – known throughout the world for his authoritative interpretations of Schubert’s piano music – had performed Winterreise together frequently between 1975 and 1989. In a way, Fischer-Dieskau’s approach to Schubert’s lieder has become the touchstone for today’s singers. This recording of rehearsal and concert offer a glance into the development of a masterly interpretation of a masterwork.

Special Feature: The Rehearsal

This 56-minute documentary offers fascinating insights into how

Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and Alfred Brendel rehearsed prior to

their recording of Schubert’s “Winterreise”.

Sound Formats: PCM Stereo

Picture Format: 4:3

Subtitles: EN, DE, FR, ES, IT

Region Code: 0

Running Time: 73 mins + 56 mins Bonus

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Strauss, R: Capriccio

Strauss, R: Capriccio


Elisabeth Schwarzkopf (Countess), Eberhard Wächter (Count), Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (Olivier), Nicolai Gedda (Flamand), Hans Hotter (La Roche), Christa Ludwig (Clairon), Rudolf Christ (Taupe), Anna Moffo (Italian Soprano), Dermot Troy (Ein italienischer Tenor), Karl Schmitt-Walter (Haushofmeister)

Philharmonia Orchestra, Wolfgang Sawallisch

Few singers have fused words and music as eloquently as Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, and few sopranos have proved more radiant in Strauss. All this makes her the ideal protagonist in the composer’s final opera, his ingenious and engaging ‘conversation piece’ on artistic themes. Schwarzkopf is joined by a cast of superlative stature and style and by a conductor intimately identified with the works of Strauss, Wolfgang Sawallisch.

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Schubert: Winterreise D911

Schubert: Winterreise D911

Mono · Recorded In 1955


Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (baritone) & Gerald Moore (pianoforte)

"Music and poetry have a common domain, from which they draw inspiration and in which they operate: the landscape of the soul,” said Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau. He embarked on Schubert’s Winterreise many times in his career, but this recording, made in 1955 with pianist Gerald Moore, is as exceptional for the youthful beauty of his singing as for the insight and immediacy of his interpretation.

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Wolf: Mörike Lieder (excerpts)

Wolf: Mörike Lieder (excerpts)


Wolf, H:

Der Genesene an die Hoffnung (No. 1 from Mörike-Lieder)

Jägerlied (No. 4 from Mörike-Lieder)

Begegnung (No. 8 from Mörike-Lieder)

Fussreise (No. 10 from Mörike-Lieder)

Verborgenheit (No. 12 from Mörike-Lieder)

Im Frühling (No. 13 from Mörike-Lieder)

Auf einer Wanderung (No. 15 from Mörike-Lieder)

In der Frühe (No. 24 from Mörike-Lieder)

Neue Liebe (No. 30 from Mörike-Lieder)

An die Geliebte (No. 32 from Mörike-Lieder)

Peregrina I (No. 33 from Mörike-Lieder)

Peregrina II (No. 34 from Mörike-Lieder)

Lebe wohl (No. 36 from Mörike-Lieder)

Der Jäger (No. 40 from Mörike-Lieder)

Der Feuerreiter (No. 44 from Mörike-Lieder)

Storchenbotschaft (No. 48 from Mörike-Lieder)

Bei einer Trauung (No. 51 from Mörike-Lieder)

Abschied (No. 53 from Mörike-Lieder)


This album contains 18 of the 53 Mörike Lieder by Hugo Wolf, performed by legendary artists Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and Sviatoslav Richter.

The Gedichte von Eduard Mörike is one of the five major song cycles that brought great recognition to the nineteenth-century composer Hugo Wolf. The 18 songs included in this recording rank amongst the composer’s most outstanding works. Despite Wolf’s own regret of being recognised as a great lied composer, he developed the Lieder genre to its highest level.

The undeniable influence of Wagner and, to some extent the 'Second Viennese School', is self-evident in Wolf’s music. By pushing the boundaries of tonality and dramatic effect, Wolf was able to achieve an unprecedented level of tension in the Lieder genre.

The epic collaboration between Fischer-Dieskau and Richter began in 1965 at the Aldeburgh Festival. Their great mutual respect has been well documented. Nonetheless, during their collaboration Sviatoslav Richter and Dietrich Fischer- Dieskau only recorded works by three different composers: Schubert, Brahms and Wolf. It was about recording Wolf that Richter said: “On this occasion it seems as though we really entered into the spirit of these songs; we’d rehearsed sufficiently and felt not only confidence, but real friendship towards each other.”

According to Richter, their collaboration with Hugo Wolf’s Lieder was the most creative and satisfying. These legendary artists bring their uncompromising attention to detail and unity of vision to produce music-making of great power and beauty.

This re-release of the 1973 Deutsche Gramophone recording of the Mörike Lieder allows us to experience the work of these 20th century musical giants in an unprecedented way and to enjoy the Mörike Lieder like never before.

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Strauss, R: Ariadne auf Naxos

Strauss, R: Ariadne auf Naxos


Hildegard Hillebrecht (Ariadne), Tatiana Troyanos (Komponist), Reri Grist (Zerbinetta), Jess Thomas (Bacchus), Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (Musiklehrer), Barry McDaniel (Harlekin), Richard Kogel (Truffaldin), Friedrich Lenz (Brighella), John van Kesteren (Scaramuchio), Arleen Auger (Najade), Unni Rugtvedt (Dryade), Sigrid Schmidt (Echo), Franz Stoss (Haushofmeister), Herbert Lackner (Ein Lakai), Friedrich Lenz (Ein Offizier), Heinz Friedrich (Ein Perückenmacher), Gerhard Unger (Ein Tanzmeister)

Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Karl Böhm

On 11 June 1944 Karl Böhm conducted Ariadne auf Naxos at the Vienna State Opera. It was, in his own words, ‘despite the dark shadows cast by the war which was already long since lost, a feast for musical Vienna’. The occasion was the 80th birthday of Richard Strauss ­ which would have undoubtedly been celebrated throughout the whole world of music had it not fallen at that sombre time; a few months later the closing of all German and Austrian theatres was one of the many signs of the inexorable approach of destruction and defeat. For Strauss, however, the celebration performance in Vienna signified one of the triumphal high spots of a lifetime rich in successes and fame.

Böhm said of Ariadne that, together with Elektra, it had always been his favourite among Strauss’s stage works, and that with it he attained his first great public and critical success.

He recorded the work twice for Deutsche Grammophon – a ‘live’ recording in 1954, and this much rarer and much sought-after studio recording made in 1969 with a superb cast that included Hildegard Hillebrecht, Reri Grist, Jess Thomas, Tatiana Troyanos and Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, which now receives its first international release on CD.

Collectors will be interested to learn that the set includes the notes that accompanied the original LP release, a synopsis and details of all the musicians who participated in the recording (including three members of the Koeckert Quartet).

“The DGG sound is as clear as crystal […] Hildegard Hillebrecht … pours forth powerful, heroic tone […] Jess Thomas is a robust Bacchus […] Reri Grist … is my ideal Zerbinetta, precise of rhythm and intonation, witty in phrasing and verbal inflexion, tough in attack yet delectably sensual in vocal quality, the whore of one’s dreams, sweet and permissive and utterly natural, never calculating” Gramophone Magazine, Hillebrecht

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Strauss, R: Salome

Strauss, R: Salome


Richard Cassily (Herod), Mignon Dunn (Herodias), Gwyneth Jones (Salome), Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (Jochanaan), Wieslaw Ochman (Narraboth) & Ursula Boese (Herodias’s Page)

Orchester der Hamburgischen Staatsoper, Karl Böhm

When the young Karl Böhm, fresh from his studies in Vienna, returned to Graz to take up a post at the opera house, which had a good reputation, his place, naturally, was at the bottom of the ladder and the operas of the great Richard Strauss were quite simply out of his reach. He conducted a performance of the Alpine Symphony in the Stefaniensaal in Graz, and sent the laudatory reviews to Strauss, in the hope of making himself known to the composer as an interpreter of his work, but he was not allowed near the operas. And when, eventually, he did, it was Die Frau ohne Schatten, Ariadne auf Naxos and Elektra that he conducted much more so than Rosenkavalier or Salome. It may sound strange, but out of the 147 performances of Salome logged by the Vienna State Opera between 1945 and 1980 Böhm conducted only 14. His only official recording of the work was made ‘live’ in Hamburg on 4 November 1970. The part of the protagonist marked a first for Gwyneth Jones; it was later to become one of her signature roles.

“Karl Böhm was probably the greatest Strauss opera conductor of his time. He was unique in the way he was able to combine the delicate transparency of the colorful orchestration and exotic harmony without underplaying the massive climaxes and Strauss’s “nerve-end contrapuntalism” Fanfare

“singing of grandeur and magical intensity [from Gwyneth Jones, in the last scene] [...] [Fischer-Dieskau’s] denunciation of the “Tochter Sodoms” chills the spine” Gramophone Magazine

“the best aspects of this live set are Richard Cassilly's Herod and Karl Böhm's adroitly disciplined conducting.” BBC Music Magazine, January 2015 ***

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Strauss, R: Elektra

Strauss, R: Elektra


Inge Borkh (Elektra), Jean Madeira (Klytämnestra), Marianne Schech (Chrysothemis), Fritz Uhl (Aegisth) & Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (Orest)

Chor der Staatsoper Dresden & Staatskapelle Dresden, Karl Böhm

Karl Böhm made the first complete stereo recording of Elektra in 1960 for Deutsche Grammophon and to this day, remains one of the sonically and artistically most exciting recordings of this work. Böhm knew Strauss personally (the booklet includes a delightful photo of the two of them relaxing together!) and conducted several premieres of the composer’s works. All the principals, led by Inge Borkh, are thrilling and incisive, and it is fitting that in this, the 150th anniversary of Strauss’s birth, this key recording be reissued.

“It is a joy to hear [Inge Borkh’s] high notes, loud or soft, taken so securely and so dead centre. She makes such things as the end of the Agamemnon monologue, the trying passage at the end of her scene with Klytemnestra, and her part in the final duet, absolutely thrilling … grand, true and beautiful singing allied to a fine conception of the great role […] Jean Madeira’s dark, rich toned voice is natural for the part of Klytemnestra […] it goes without saying that Fischer-Dieskau makes a living person of Orestes […] Fritz Uhl gives an excellent portrayal of the ill-fated Aegisthus […] Karl Böhm commands the greatest admiration … the huge orchestra plays superbly […] As for the recording, it is so good and spacious that one rarely adverts to it” Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 1961

“Borkh makes Elektra womanly from the start, Jean Madeira enunciates the second part of the Klytemnestra scene with a quasi-improvisatory clarity, the orchestra's parallel triads slither and shriek, and there is Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau: solemn, fearful, with an almost dismissive inflection” Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2013

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Britten: War Requiem, Op. 66

Britten: War Requiem, Op. 66

world premiere recording

recorded live at Coventry Cathedral, May 1962


Heather Harper (soprano), Peter Pears (tenor), Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (baritone)

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Melos Ensemble, Coventry Festival Choir, Boys of Holy Trinity, Leamington and Holy Trinity, Stratford, Meredith Davies (CBSO), Benjamin Britten (Melos)

This performance is the World Premiere of the Britten War Requiem to mark the consecration of the new Coventry Cathedral.

Hearing History

‘The first performance created an atmosphere of such intensity that by the end I was completely undone; I did not know where to hide my face,’ Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau wrote in his autobiography of the War Requiem premiere. ‘Dead friends and past suffering arose in my mind.’ Fischer-Dieskau was a somewhat gruff, paternalistic character of whom Britten would grow wary, but he perfectly captured the emotional intensity of the occasion. Nor was he exaggerating: a few days after the first performance on 30 May Britten wrote to a friend about how Peter Pears had to help Fischer-Dieskau from his seat at the concert’s end. By the time of this letter the ripples from the premiere had travelled far and the profound impact of the work was quickly acknowledged in reviews and correspondence. Yet even Britten was caught unawares by the public resonances of the piece and the emotional responses it inspired.

The commissioners gave Britten a remarkably broad brief. ‘The new work they seek could be full length or a substantial 30/40 minutes one: its libretto could be sacred or secular.’ Britten opted for both sacred and secular, which gave him the opportunity to undermine the former with the latter. He had been thinking about such a piece for a few years, telling a friend in January 1957, ‘I am just starting a Mass myself, a rather sad 20th century, European, affair.’ Typically Britten’s big compositions were some years in the making. Usually at least the librettist, story or poems were pinned down early on, but in the case of this sad mass, Britten had not yet established the form it would take. By the time he thought of his bold scheme to juxtapose Owen’s bitter take on Judeo-Christian beliefs and the Old Men of church and state who shrouded themselves in these beliefs as they marched young men off to war, Britten was wracked with the sort of uncertainty that governed all his major works. ‘I go on working at the Coventry piece,’ he told director Basil Coleman in 1961, a month or so before finishing it. ‘Sometimes it seems the best ever, more often the worst – but it is always so with me.’

Extracts from the note by Paul Kildea

“Taken from a BBC recording, this single CD preserves the historic first performance in all its messy glory...[Harper] is at her peak, all gleaming beauty and commanding authority; and Peter Pears and Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, both in fine voice, match each other in the kind of singing of which history is made.” Gramophone Magazine, December 2013

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Wagner: Der Ring des Nibelungen (excerpts)

Wagner: Der Ring des Nibelungen (excerpts)


2013 sees a series of Wagner reissues on Eloquence from complete operas and highlights to Wagner singer portraits and even an audiobook!

Reissued for the Wagner Year are highlights from Herbert von Karajan’s mighty ‘Ring’ cycle. The disc includes extended highlights from the four ‘Ring’ operas and allows us to sample Karajan’s choice of different singers for the same character in different operas – Fischer-Dieskau’s Wotan in Das Rheingold and Thomas Stewart’s in Siegfried. There are notes on the music as well as an essay by Karajan expert Richard Osborne on the background to Karajan’s Ring, as well as a photo gallery of many of the key singers. There were and will always be many competitive Ring cycles on the market, but, as Martin Baker sums up ‘[Karajan] creates […] a transparent aural stage where the light and shade in the music has an almost forensic quality. Musically the Karajan Ring cycle has a visceral intensity that, especially in the subterranean scenes, hints at the sinister mythologies that informed Germany’s recent history and is probably closer to the heart of the narrative’s darkness than any other recording.’

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