Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Schubert : Winterreise

Justin Davidson

By Justin Davidson

on 05.18.11 in Reviews

Schubert : Winterreise

Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau
The baritone burrows his way into the scalding heart of these tragic songs

Schubert's song cycle is about returning single-mindedly to irretrievable emotions, and Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau revisited this wrenching music with a doggedness that bordered on obsession. Mavens will argue whether he was at his most refined in 1955, '63, or '66, some will detect some falloff by '72, and many would listen to the '80, '86, or '90 versions with more respect than adoration. This is the 1963 vintage, the second recording he made with Gerald Moore for EMI, and it finds the baritone desperately trying to burrow his way into the scalding heart of Schubert's tragic songs, without letting a breath of pathos creep into his interpretations; only poise, sensitivity, intelligence, and wisdom. But it's the restlessness — the search &#8212 that matters, both to the grieving young man of the poems, who goes stumbling through the snow and ice in search of some way to salve his suffering, and to the artist who channels him. At the piano, Moore is the ultimate partner, conjuring up the terrain, the cold, and the past. His sympathy with the singer — the way they breathe and move together &#8212 paradoxically sharpens Schubert's depiction of exquisite loneliness.