I’m celebrating the 85th birthday of the wonderful singer Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau today by listening to some “new” recordings of his: a 4-disc set of some of his recordings made for EMI, never released, of lieder by Beethoven, Mozart, Haydn, Schoenberg and Berg. Recordings from the Archives features five hours of music recorded between 1959 (for the Haydn) and 1984. I have hundreds of discs by Fischer-Dieskau; he is easily my favorite singer, and the one who got me interested in German art songs, or lieder.
His monument is his 21-disc recording of all of Schubert’s lieder for male voice, which I have listened to many time. Recorded in the 1960s and early 1970s, this is Fischer-Dieskau in his prime, doing the music he loved the most.
This year we have been graced with several new releases. The above Recordings from the Archives joins another box set of his Great EMI Recordings, including several discs of his earliest recordings of Schubert, but also containing music by Schumann, Brahms, Wolf and Mahler. If you’re not familiar with Fischer-Dieskau, this is a good place to start, especially as it contains excellent recordings of the three great Schubert song cycles: Die Schöne Müllerin, Winterreise, and Schwanengesang. But the keystone of his recordings remains the complete Schubert set. No matter what, if you don’t know his music, take this opportunity to discover his golden voice.