Works by R Strauss, Schumann, Ullmann & Liszt

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COMPOSERS: Schumann,Ullmann & Liszt,Works by R Strauss
LABELS: DG
ALBUM TITLE: Melodramas
WORKS: Lenore; Der traurige Monch; Enoch Arden
PERFORMER: Fischer-Dieskau (baritone), Burkhard Kehring (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 477 5320
Since his retirement from singing in 1992, Fischer-Dieskau has often appeared as a reciter in ‘melodrama’ – a curious hybrid medium that combines and alternates narration with musical fragments. The range and strength of his voice are remarkable for a man nearing 80, while his verbal colouring and dramatic timing recall the master Lieder singer. Pianist Burkhard Kehring, too, makes the most of his descriptive opportunities.

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That said, the musical content of these discs is pretty thin. Few will disagree with Strauss’s own verdict on his sentimental treatment of Tennyson’s ballad Enoch Arden as ‘an occasional piece of rubbish’. There is more atmosphere in Victor Ullmann’s music for Rilke’s surreal novella Die Weise von Liebe und Tod des Cornets Christoph Rilke, written shortly before his death in Auschwitz. But the most memorable – or perhaps the least forgettable – musical invention is in the shorter pieces by Schumann and, especially, Liszt, whose gift for the macabre was evidently stirred by the grisly Gothic ballads Lenore and Der traurige Mönch (The Woeful Monk). Richard Wigmore