Magazine article Gramophone

Schubert: Winterreise, D911

Magazine article Gramophone

Schubert: Winterreise, D911

Article excerpt


Winterreise, D911

Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau bar Jorg Demus pf

DG [B] 447 421-2GOR (71' * ADD * T/t)

What the reader will want to know is how does Fischer-Dieskau's latest interpretation compare with his second (11/63). The latter notably fined down some dramatic outbursts and eliminated some unnecessary verbal pointmaking. He has now gone further in these directions, but the differences are so slight as to make it impossible to list them.

I must confess that Fischer-Dieskau's second recording remains my choice, mainly because Gerald Moore's playing was even more superb than before. There is much to admire in Jorg Demus's playing but it is not of this calibre, tiresome as it may seem to have to go on saying this. Alec Robertson (6/66)

That this is the most interior, unadorned and undemonstrative of Fischer-Dieskau's readings perhaps arises from the fact that Demus, a discerning musician and sure accompanist, is the most reflective of all the singer's many partners in the cycle. Demus never strikes out on his own, is always there unobtrusively and subtly supportive, with the right colour and phrasing, literally in hand. Given an intimate, slightly dry recording, finely remastered, the whole effect is of a pair communing with each other and stating the sad, distraught message of Schubert's bleak work in terms of a personal message to the listener in the home.

With this deeply rewarding performance now at mid-price, all other baritone versions are severely challenged. Certainly if you want Fischer-Dieskau in the cycle you need look no further. Alan Blyth (8/95)

Hugo Shirley This was my first-ever recording of Winterreise, and I bought it when it came out as one of the earliest batch of DG's 'Originals' series. Returning to it now, my initial impression is that there's a lot to admire. There's extraordinary artistry from Fischer-Dieskau but it feels very much an 'interpretation': artful and intelligent, but not 'lived'.

Richard Fairman I'm not sure I entirely agree with you; but before we get down to that, I should outline my own journey to this recording. I grew up with Fischer-Dieskau's 1972 Winterreise, the DG one with Gerald Moore (1/73). I don't remember why I bought it but the three--LP set of the song-cycles was the sole recording I chose to take with me to university. I was seduced by the beauty of Fischer-Dieskau's voice and he made me fall in love with Schubert Lieder. That much doesn't change. I hadn't heard this particular Winterreise, though, until a copy arrived so that we could have this conversation. As this was your first, can I ask how you felt about it when you bought it?

HS It was my introduction not only to Winterreise but also to Fischer-Dieskau and Schubert Lieder in general. For a long time those last two were completely synonymous for me. And we could probably debate at length about which of his several recordings --each of them, at least from the 1950s to early '70s, probably as worthy of classic status as this one--the voice sounds best in. Most from that era were with Moore, though, and this one features Jorg Demus, who brings a lighter, more restrained touch. Do you agree, and do you think that brings something extra special--or different, at least--from Fischer-Dieskau?

RF Yes, the first thing that strikes me about this recording is how straightforward Demus is as the accompanist--clean, clear, unassuming, rhythmically precise, limited tonal palette, quite different from the emotional warmth that I was used to with Moore. I really enjoy Demus's playing but I'm not sure how well it fits with what Fischer-Dieskau is doing.

HS That's pretty much how I feel, and even a comparison of Moore in the first minute of the cycle is instructive. Demus's accents feel like just that, whereas I get the sense Moore is really trying to portray a lot more with his: pain, frustration, loneliness. …

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