Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

"Music, both vocall and instrumental, so good, so delectable, so rare, so admirable, so super excellent, that it did even ravish and stupifie all those strangers that never heard the like." - Thomas Coryat, after hearing 3 hours of music at the Scuola di San Rocco in Venice, 1608.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

A marvellous performance let down by technology

This DVD is a reissue of a highly-praised film from German Television of a 1979 performance by Fischer-Dieskau and Alfred Brendel in the Siemensvilla in Berlin. It definitely shows its age, with low definition video and audio that's fine but shows neither brilliance nor bloom. This is a shame, because the great baritone's slight loss in vocal quality from his salad days in the 1960s is more than made up for in his dramatic presence. HD video would have showed that off beautifully, whereas now you have to squint a little to see his expressions. On the plus side, TV director Klaus Lindemann has staged this with admirable restraint and dignity, and he keeps camera movement to a minimum. The focus is on Schubert's powerful music and on Fischer-Dieskau's portrayal of Wilhelm Müller's sombre protagonist. Of course, Alfred Brendel's musical contribution is immediately and continuously apparent. There are subtitles (in English, German, French, Spanish & Italian) for the songs, but unfortunately not for the 56 minute Rehearsal documentary. This looks absolutely fascinating, but alas, I don't understand German!

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