Here they are together in the same film, Christa Ludwig and Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, the two German singers developed the art of the lied to hitherto unprecedented perfection, unlikely to be surpassed since they left the stage the same year in 1993. This quest for perfection in the lied did not prevent them from also leading immense careers in opera.
A legendary performer of Mozart and Strauss, mezzo-soprano Christa Ludwig is also a model in musicianship and intelligence in the lied. For her first appearance in 1962 in the programme Celebrity Recital proposed by pianist Gerald Moore on the BBC, Christa Ludwig, accompanied on the piano by Moore himself, gives a recital of lieder by Brahms, Schubert, Wolf and Strauss in which she reveals all the facets of her artistry: never wanting in reflection or cultivation, she makes us forget her immense knowledge through a simplicity and spontaneity that she has kept to this day. She hasn't changed, she is truly a great lady.
Like Christa Ludwig, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau crossed paths with Gerald Moore in the same programme. In 1959, the baritone, already famous since his first recording of Schubert's Winter Journey in 1947, makes his television debut. This singer steeped in German literature, also inspired by a rigour that is far from being equalled, recorded all of Schubert's lieder and sang close to three thousand lieder by a hundred different composers. Which seems quite incredible when one knows he sang opera practically non-stop in unforgettable performances as Wotan, Falstaff and Wozzeck!
We hear him in lieder by Schubert, with his perfect musicianship, precise and appropriate tone, his feeling for lyrics and his prodigious intelligence, then in Mahler's Songs of a Wayfarer in which he is able to deploy the entire range of his fascinating artistry. Truly, a great man.
Orchestre de l'ORTF, Georges Prêtre - Orchestre de l'Opéra de Paris, Georges Sébastian
Edinburgh Festival 1964