Zum Konzert am 2. Mai 1972 in New York

New York Times, 4. Mai 1972

Fischer-Dieskau Sings at Walter Memorial Concert

There used to be available an illuminating recording in which Bruno Walter could be heard rehearsing a Mozart symphony, fervently and continually pleading with his orchestra to "Sing! Sing!". That mellifluent voice suddenly came flooding back into one’s memory at Tuesday night’s New York Philharmonic concert while Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau was singing one of half a dozen Mozart arias with consummate taste and intelligence.

The great German baritone appeared as soloist at the orchestra’s Pension Fund program, which was performed in memory of Walter, a frequent conductor of the Philharmonic, who died 10 years ago last February.


Walter’s Mozart put extraordinary stress on elastic phrases, 19th-century heart-on-sleeve expressiveness and a long lyric line, often at the expense of rhythmic brio. That Mozart style is on the shelf at the moment.

Nevertheless, that paragon of 20th-century singers, Mr. Fischer-Dieskau, proved a perfect choice for a Walter memorial concert. Three of the concert arias he chose were originally meant for bass voice, but the baritone’s profound grasp of both music and text more than compensated for any lack of profunditiy in range or resonance. In "Mentre ti lascio, o figlia," the one somber aria on his program, Mr. Fischer-Dieskau found a couple of bottom notes that he could not quite project, but who really cared about that? Every aria curved in a finely controlled lyric line, and made dramatic and musical sense. The orchestra under Lorin Maazel’s direction meanwhile sang along in a true Bruno Walter spirit, if not in the Walter letter.

The lighter numbers, done with much elegance as well as good humor, were "Nach der welschen Art" from "La Finta Giardiniera"; "Un Bacio di mano"; "Männer suchen stets zu naschen," and "Ich möchte wohl der Kaiser sein."

The last of these, with its jangling and whomping janissary accompaniment, caused such general happiness in Philharmonic Hall that Almaviva’s "Vedro mentr’io sospiro" had to be brought out as an encore.


Donal Henahan

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