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This recital recorded at the Düsseldorf Opera in November 1989 reveals the professionality of the baritone and omnicantor Dietrich Fischer- Dieskau (1925–2012), who deserves a neologism for his encyclopaedic recordings. DFD performs alongside his wife, the Romanian-Hungarian soprano Júlia Várady (b 1941), who tamps down her considerable operatic temperament for the occasion. Fischer-Dieskau, known to colleagues as Fidi, is seconded magisterially by his long-time accompanist Hartmut Höll. The programme builds in interest, from lightweight works by the Mendelssohn siblings to the more consequential Cornelius and Schumann. Mr and Mrs Fidi eschew sentimentality, even in uxorious 19th-century domestic anthems such as Cornelius’s Ich und Du. A certain acid potential in Várady’s voice, with generous Slavic vibrato, adds drama. Fischer-Dieskau is no longer in optimum vocal control, and the occasional splatted note creates an impression of flawed, albeit still-lofty, mortality. Unfazed by such mishaps, Höll provides continuity, creating poetic miniatures for each song. The keyboard part of Cornelius’ Best Love Letter is played in a spry and enchanting, almost Wolf-like, way.

Benjamin Ivry Read the full review on Agora Classica


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