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Winterreise & Die schöne Müllerin

5.0 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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(Apr 27, 2010)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau performs Winterreisse at the Siemensvilla, Berlin, in 1979 with pianist Alfred Brendel. He also performs Die schoene Muellerin at the Montforthaus, Feldkirch (Vorarlberg), 1991, with pianist Andras Schiff. Also included is a bonus


I think it is always important when reviewing a DVD or CD that a critic admit whether or not she had the opportunity to hear the artist live. How an unamplified human voice sounds in an auditorium and the personality and presence the artist projects profoundly influence the effect they have on an audience. So right up front I want to say that I never heard or saw Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau live. All I know about him comes from his astonishingly varied recorded legacy.

And as a young listener I was not a fan of either his voice or his artistry. I found the former on the "blustery" side (particularly in big operatic performances) and the latter on the "fussy" side. Because of that early prejudice, and despite a deep love of the great song literature, I never bothered to watch his videos. So my overwhelmingly positive response to this remarkable set came as a complete surprise... Watching these DVDs for the first time, the biggest revelation for me was the "spontaneity and youthful enthusiasm" of the performances. What comes across as fussy and calculated on recordings appears completely natural and instinctive on video. The sheer "artlessness" of the art is almost breathtaking. You may never see a more perfect blending of voice, technique, intellect, musicality, storytelling and repertoire.

In both of these performances the great baritone was working with equally great pianists. In "Die Winterreise," Alfred Brendel's dark, weighty tone was the perfect compliment for the baritone's voice, which at that time still retained much of its youthful color and strength. Working together they bring an almost "Beethoven-ian" seriousness to the tragic story, and it makes for a dramatic and compelling performance.

By the time "Die schöne Müllerin" was recorded the voice had lost some of that color and strength, but still possessed to an amazing degree its beauty, spin and grace. András Schiff's light, transparent tone and loving attention to detail enabled the singer to create a remarkably youthful portrait of love found and then lost.

To sum it up, if you already own these remarkable documents you owe it to yourself to give them another viewing. If you have yet to purchase them, this boxed set is a must-have for any serious lover of great song literature. - Wendy Escambia -- Parterre.com - July 1, 2010

Special Features


Product Details

  • Format: Classical, Color, NTSC
  • Language: German
  • Subtitles: German, English, French, Italian, Spanish
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Alliance
  • DVD Release Date: April 27, 2010
  • Run Time: 212 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0039ZCHLS
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #345,425 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Art song lovers will delight in these two video recordings of Schubert's famous song cycles, performed by baritone Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau with Andreas Schiff and Alfred Brendel, respectively, as accompanists. Now retired, Fischer-Dieskau was perhaps the greatest singer of German lieder in the 20th century, and his intimate knowledge of these songs, both words and music, is evident throughout. It's one thing merely to hear these song cycles; it's quite another to watch Fischer-Dieskau as he performs. His ability to wring an emotional response out of a situation that sometimes verges on the comical, as in Die Schoene Muellerin, is wonderful to see. No less compelling is his unerring sense of the narrative, which moves forward not only in the voice but also in the accompaniment.

Die Schoene Muellerin was performed in Austria in 1991 as part of a Schubertiade celebration. It is the only performance that Fischer-Dieskau and Schiff gave together, and the video for Austrian television records their spontaneous give and take. The Winterreise cycle was performed some years earlier, in 1979, and Fischer-Dieskau is visibly younger. His accompanist then was the great Austrian pianist Alfred Brendel. In this recording one senses the mutual compatibility of two top musicians, whose shared understanding of this music enhances each other's performance. Winterreise is by far the deeper and more profound of the two cycles, as repeated viewings of this recording will make abundantly clear.

As a bonus, one DVD also contains an interview with Fischer-Dieskau, in German with English subtitles, and the other shows part of a rehearsal in German with Fischer-Dieskau and Brendel. No transcripts of the songs are included, but both concert recordings have English subtitles.

This set of two DVDs was produced especially for Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau's 85th birthday in 2005.
Nan Norling/Ted Wilks
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These happen to be two quite separate performances with two different accompanists recorded 12 years apart. They are even boxed independently and then placed inside a single all-encompassing carton. Neither the Editorial Review or the single customer review so far posted gives much useful information on which a prospective customer could make an intelligent decision. Whether you like it or not, this is a deficiency I hope to remedy.
First, let us recall that FD’s singing career ran from 1947 to 1992, from age 22 to 67, quite doable for a baritone who husbanded his vocal gifts so astutely. Nevertheless, his voice and interpretative style changed considerably over this period, and so did his accompanists. His first Winterreise featured Gerald Moore on the piano, appearing on vinyl in the late 1950s. Around the same time, Hans Hotter, well into his prime, also recorded the cycle with Moore. I still have copies of both, and they represent two contrasting interpretations of the same music and text: FD the young, boyish lover, almost in disbelief that his beloved could have treated him so cruelly, singing with a trace of optimism that this will all turn out to be an unfortunate mistake. Hotter, embittered by experience, has no such elusions and his powerful bass-baritone is filled with anger and self-contempt. FD went on to make several more recordings of the cycle: with Jorg Demus, Daniel Barenboim, Murray Perahia, and this present version in 1979 that I purchased as a CD. As he aged, FD’s view of Winterreise grew closer to Hotter’s. His intonation took on a more bitter timbre and lost the bloom of forgiveness.
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This pack is not only a GREAT deal it is also an amazing work of art. Fischer-Diskau is THE best lied singer of our time. I feel as though it would be somewhat of a folly if you are a singer and do not own this set!
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