Schumann: Dichterliebe; Liederkreis, Op. 24,

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WORKS: Dichterliebe; Liederkreis, Op. 24,
PERFORMER: Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (baritone) Hartmut Höll (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 4509-98492-2 DDD
Here is something very special: two of the last of Fischer-Dieskau’s live recitals from Nuremberg, just before the 67-year-old retired from the concert platform. He chooses Schumann’s Heine settings: the earlier Op. 24 Liederkreis, in which his voice captures the fugitive vignettes of anticipation, apprehension and leavetaking with passionate mastery. And, poignantly, only a month after the reissue of his 1979 Dichterliebe, his final performance of the cycle. The physical voice is, of course, now laboured (though he dares, magnificently, the upper line in ‘Ich grolle nicht’); but intention and perception are stronger than ever, energised by Hartmut Höll’s accompanying.


It is this unquenchable energy of spirit and will, constantly firing his responses, which makes so moving his final leavetaking of Schubert. Both halves of the recital start off at a canter with the image of journey, farewell and goal. There is Kronos the coachdriver, the trotting horse of ‘Auf der Brück’ and, as the inevitable final encore, the restless pawing of the ground in the D957 ‘Abschied’ (Farewell).


In a meticulously planned programme, there is Goethe’s ‘Hope’ (‘Let the labours of my hands, O my fate, by me be ended’); here, too, is the Bard who abandons all but his zither. Fischer-Dieskau’s half-voice sees all things, ‘pure in still reflection’ in ‘Der Wanderer’ and, opening out, sustains unfalteringly Mayrhofer’s reincarnatory vision of the setting sun. Hilary Finch