Recorded from 1967 through 1969, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and Gerald Moore's six-disc collection of many but not all of the songs of Richard Strauss is almost but not quite as good as it gets in this world. The reason is not that the set is incomplete: many of Strauss' songs were composed with a woman's voice in mind and some of the texts resist a transference from one sex to another. The reason is not that the songs are not magnificent: many of Strauss' songs are as good as any ever composed and some of them are simply as good as it gets. The reason is not Moore's accompaniments: Moore was perhaps the finest accompanist of the middle years of the twentieth century and his subtlety, sympathy, and sensitivity are nearly unrivaled. The reason is not Fischer-Dieskau's interpretations: Fischer-Dieskau was beyond all argument the greatest baritone of the second half of the twentieth century and his intelligence, understanding, and compassion are ideal models of what song interpretation should be. The reason is that by 1967, Fischer-Dieskau's voice was almost but not quite as fresh as it once was and there are moments when his ability to sustain a high note or hold a low note is in question. But -- and this cannot be stressed enough -- most of the time, Fischer-Dieskau is superlative, singing with a voice as strong and supple as the finest cognac and, thus, most of the time, this set of the songs of Richard Strauss is as good as it gets in this world. EMI's late-'60s stereo sound was as good as stereo sound ever got, that is, clear, warm, round, and deep.
Strauss: Lieder Vol.1 Review
by James Leonard