One Of The Immortals Of Voice At His Best!
J. M WILINSKY | teaneck, NJ United States | 11/20/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"There are many, including me, who feel that Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau Is the finest singer of lieder who ever lived and this is one of his finest performances. As he matured as an artist he became more expressive and intricate in his singing. In this performance we see him in top form. Alfred Brendel also gives a top notch interpretation. You might wonder if it is useful to see this performance or just listen to a cd. It is interesting to note that Konstantin Stanislavsky, the father of modern acting technique, once commented that the finest actors that he had ever seen were the opera singers! Well, just as we would want to see a great performance of Hamlet and not just hear it, to see Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau emote his way through this is incomparable. What a fantastic actor he is! He maintains great intensity throughout this entire performance. Schubert's Winterriese deals with one of the most painful of human experiences: unrequited love and contemplation of suicide. This highly charged topic gives the artist a great deal to work with.
There is a bonus on this dvd where we get to experience the two of them rehearsing. They speak very quickly and it is difficult to catch what they are saying, so we don't get any subtitles, but fortunately, they communicate quite a bit in musical terms, singing how they want each phrase to be performed and this is very interesting and instructive.
There is another 1991 video of Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau singing Winterreise with Murray Perahia at the piano on vhs, which I own, but I perfer this 1979 performance. Even Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau himself has said that he never sings a piece the same way twice, so we're entitled to pick and choose, aren't we?
If you are interested in looking further into Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, he currently has a few other dvds you might explore as well and his immense discography. In addition, I recommend two of his books--an auto-biography and an analysis of Schubert's lieder."
J Scott Morrison | Middlebury VT, USA | 11/17/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If there is any music with which Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau is more identified than 'Winterreise,' I don't know what it is. He sang it for the first time in public before he was only eighteen! (And that performance was interrupted by an air raid warning!) He recorded it many times; with ingenuity one can ferret out more than twenty recordings he made of the song cycle. Most of those were recorded off the air or recorded on the sly during a recital, but most have been in wide circulation. Of course, he also made commercial recordings, most notably with his long-time accompanist, Gerald Moore, and with the subtle accompanist, Jörg Demus. The latter recording, made in 1966, is my favorite of the studio-recorded versions I've heard. But we have, as far as I know, only one video recording of him doing 'Winterreise' and that's this one, in very clear and rich stereo, recorded in January 1979 when he was 53 years old. His accompanist is one of the greatest pianists alive then or now, Alfred Brendel. And the recording of this performance, shot at the Siemensvilla, Berlin, is simply magnificent. FiDi is in ravishing voice and Brendel is an incredibly sensitive but in no way deferential accompanist. This is a true partnership of equals.
What can one say about this performance? All the virtues are there, and as far as I can tell, no quibbles arise about the performance. Brendel is a fabulous accompanist. He and FiDi had performed the cycle several times before, and yet this is as fresh a performance as one could imagine. [There is, by the way, an hour-long bonus on this DVD of FiDi and Brendel rehearsing for this performance. Their conversation is, naturally, in German and unfortunately there are no subtitles for those who don't understand the language. Still, one can learn from how they work together, especially when they demonstrate -- Brendel in his croaky pianist's voice -- various points in their interpretation. There is a note in the booklet apologizing for there being no subtitles for the rehearsal film but 'it was virtually impossible to understand what was said in several places, thereby rendering any meaningful translation impracticable.' What about those many passages where the spoken German is perfectly understandable? Ah, well.]
As always, when hearing Fischer-Dieskau sing 'Winterreise,' I was reduced to tears by the time we got to 'Der Leiermann.' This time, as early as 'Das Wirtshaus' my eyes began to leak.
Fischer-Dieskau has just celebrated his 80th birthday. What more wonderful event, then, than for this video of 'Winterreise' to be released in the current medium of choice, DVD. Happy Birthday, FiDi!
If you love Fischer-Dieskau's Schubert, you must own this DVD.
Fischer-Dieskau's signature work preserved on video
klavierspiel | TX, USA | 01/12/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Whatever one might think of the way he sings a specific work or another, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau is one of the giants of twentieth-century singing. Schubert's Winterreise has played a central role in his long career (it was one of the earliest works he sang in public, in a recital interrupted by an air raid) and he has documented his thoughts on the song cycle many times, both in audio recordings and on video.
This DVD contains a performance with the Austrian pianist Alfred Brendel taped in 1979 for German television, recorded as if in a concert situation, though without an audience. One appreciates the straightforward visuals, in particular the lack of distracting fades and cutting that so often mars films of classical performances. Fischer-Dieskau was in his fifties at the time and already had been before the public for more than three decades. If one compares his performance here to his 1963 EMI recording with Gerald Moore, there is an inevitable loss of vocal plushness and moments of uncertain intonation. These are to a great extent compensated, though not totally, by the singer's assured delivery of the text and dramatic commitment. Fischer-Dieskau is remarkably restrained physically, barely moving most of the time except for his face, which is a marvel of expressiveness. Some of the most telling moments, such as in the final song, "Der Leiermann," are accomplished solely with his eyes and voice. This is great lieder, as opposed to opera, singing. Brendel of course is a master in his own right, and adds much insight through his sharply pointed, though not sensual, sound. This is not a performance for any listener who must have continuous beauty of melody and tone; but for anyone who wishes to get to the heart of "Winterreise" seeing and hearing these two artists at work is a revelation.
The DVD also includes a filmed one-hour rehearsal, which though interesting is lessened in value because of the lack of subtitles (the performance itself is subtitled in several languages). The accompanying booklet cites the rapidity of the two men's conversation and lack of intelligibility as the reason, but surely some of the dialogue could have been translated or summarized. Nevertheless, this is a most rewarding classical music DVD."