Zum Konzert am 4. September 1964 in Edinburgh

The Times, London, 7. September 1964   

However it was on Friday evening that Mr. Steinberg and his players did most valuable service by devoting themselves to Mahler and contrasting the subjective poet of the Kindertotenlieder with the objective orator of the (understandably) infrequently heard seventh symphony, a work which takes over an hour saying things to which a self-critical composer might perhaps have devoted 20 minutes. As always there were marvels of orchestration and construction to compensate for the lack of thematic distinction (notably in the two outside movements), a lack due to the composer’s inability to find inspiration in notes alone, divorced from personal sentiment. Moreover the full-blooded performance under Mr. Steinberg allowed further recognition of the Pittsburghers’ sterling qualities – their fine ensemble, their uncommonly fluid and unaggressive brass department, their well-blended woodwind and their reliable even if not memorably golden (after an exhausting world tour) strings. Yet the real artistic satisfaction of the concert came in the Kindertotenlieder, where Mr. Fischer-Dieskaus’s own deeply compassionate yet refined and restrained singing prevented this emotional music from ever wearing its heart on its sleeve.

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