Listening: Baritone Matthias Goerne sings Schubert and Strauss in memory of Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau

Matthias Goerne sings Schubert and Strauss in memory of Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau.

Available for free streaming until May 31 is a wonderful concert offered as a tribute to late baritone Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, given by the Bavarian Radio Symphony, conductor Christoph Eschenbach and baritone Matthias Goerne.

The concert, programmed long before Fischer-Dieskau died 10 days ago, is entitled The Art of Orchestration. The presenters decided to move up the Lieder portion (all of them orchestrated — featuring the handiwork of Johannes Brahms, Max Reger and Anton Webern in the case of the Schubert songs) to the start of the programme.

The second half features a treat that I don’t remember anyone every programming here: Arnold Schoenberg’s reimagining of Brahms’ Piano Quartet No. 1 for full orchestra.

Goerne, whose teachers included Fischer-Dieskau, sings with his trademark sensitivity. There is an intimacy to Goerne’s interpretations that makes for particularly affecting listening. The Schubert Lieder orchestrations are wonderfully simple, and Eschenbach lends a light, clear touch as an accompanist.

The Lieder aren’t presented in the order announced; the Schubert and Strauss songs are intermixed. They include, from Schubert, a couple of excerpts from Die schöne Müllerin, An Sylvia, Greisengesang, Im Abendrot and An die Musik. Strauss’s contributions are Traum durch die Dämmerung, Das Rosenband, Freundliche Vision, Heimliche Aufforderung, Ruhe, Meine Seele!, Allerseelen, and one of the most effectively simple musical settings of poetry ever, Morgen!.

Click here to listen.

Yesterday, the Telegraph published an article featuring English tenor Ian Bostridge’s recollections of how he was inspired by Fischer-Dieskau.

Rupert Christiansen’s article begins:

Some 30 years ago, a 14-year-old schoolboy called Ian Bostridge was sitting in his first German lesson, when his teacher Richard Stokes had a brilliant idea: he would introduce the class to the glory of the language and the culture it inspired by playing a recording of Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau singing Schubert’s setting of Goethe’s Erlkönig ballad.

For Bostridge, this would prove to be a life-changing moment.

Thunderstruck, he went on to become obsessed with German song in general and Fischer-Dieskau in particular, before himself becoming one of his generation’s leading lieder recitalists.

So when the death of Fischer-Dieskau at the age of 86 was announced on May 18, Bostridge felt a pang of personal loss. “I would never have become a singer without him, and if I know anything now about how to sing in German, it’s because at some level I simply copied him.”

You can read the full story here.


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