Teachout on DFD

May 25th, 2012  |  Tags:

Terry Teachout discusses the controversies surrounding Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau’s approach to performing, as well as what made him so great:

Mr. Fischer-Dieskau’s style of singing was so individual, even idiosyncratic, that it left some people cold. Unlike the generation of recitalists that preceded him, he sang like an actor, not a storyteller. In his hands, each song became a first-person monologue, a confession of supreme intensity. Individual phrases, sometimes individual syllables, were subtly inflected so as to bring out their meaning. The effect was almost kaleidoscopic in its richness of dramatic nuance, and a listener who was used to the “simpler” style of an older singer like, say, Lotte Lehmann or Richard Tauber might easily find it oversophisticated, even—yes—mannered.

Read the whole thing, especially for Teachout’s reflection on his own changing evaluation of DFD’s work over time. And then listen to this, which is outside of what we might imagine as the typical Fischer-Dieskau oeuvre but excellent nonetheless: