Baritone Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau has died (NYTimes). “Providence gives to some singers a beautiful voice, to some musical artistry, to some (let us face it) neither, but to Fischer-Dieskau Providence has given both. The result is a miracle and that is just about all there is to be said about it.” (John Amis) [more inside]
Giants of Soviet opera are little known in the West. But Victor Han has taken it upon himself to keep their memory alive....my personal favorite is Mark Reizen, a deeply nuanced bass, who was powerful enough to carry on singing into his ninth decade. If you'd care to follow along with some of the songs, you can use Emily Ezust's massive archive of lyrics, to which Victor contributes. Or, try listening in English first. Too much music? Here's some reading.
“The leader of the jury looked at his papers and said in the first round: ‘I know a disabled person is coming. I want the jury to close their eyes. I don’t want them to be touched in any way.’ ” As if, of course, one needed to know about Thomas Quasthoff's Thalidomide-related severe physical handicaps to be moved by the sound of his voice. He goes seamlessly from pianissimo to fortissimo, in his recitals a single Lied becomes "a major, stunning drama playing out in a few minutes". He sang jazz to support himself in university and it remains a passion (he likes to sing Paul Robeson or even Frank Sinatra encores), but he's famously leery of crossover artists like Andrea Bocelli. Just don't cough during his recitals -- "because I love this music so much". He doesn't like to talk much about his nightmarish childhood and teenage years, plagued by surgeries and body casts -- "I have in my past time had very difficult years, very difficult years" is all he'll usually say -- so please try not to consider him a victim, because he doesn't see himself as such: "I don't think people are moved because I am disabled. I think it's because I have something to say." More inside.
The Song and the Singer For many he is the greatest Lieder singer of the 20th century. As he turns 80, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau reflects on his long career.