"He had only to sing one phrase," his frequent accompanist Gerald Moore wrote in his memoirs, "before I knew I was in the presence of a master." Sviatoslav Richter, who accompanied him too, was in no doubt either: Fischer-Dieskau was "the greatest of 20th-century singers", the Russian pianist wrote in his notebooks. John Steane, most probing and unsentimental of all critics, threw up his hands after listening to Fischer-Dieskau and, quoting Dryden on Chaucer, simply concluded: "Here is God's plenty." The writer John Amis concluded that Fischer-Dieskau is "a miracle and that is just about all there is to be said about it".
"I am hard to please," Fischer-Dieskau admits. He thinks "much is being lost about the good ways of making music", and regrets the decline of "true legato singing" - a charge that critics occasionally made against his own performances. "When you have something to say in music the phrases must be clear - the beginning, the climax, and the ending."
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