Monday, May 21, 2012

Dietrich and Donna

The Queen of disco and the King of German lieder both died this week.
Although I am neither a fan of disco or lieder, I have long had Pandora Channels named for both Donna Summers and Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau.
Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau
Donna Summers

I dipped heavily into both Pandora channels over the weekend as I reflected on the passing of both of these great (in very different ways) singers.

Listening to the Donna Summers channel, I heard some of her hits like Last Dance, Hot Stuff and She Works Hard For the Money. I also got to hear  artists like Chic, Gloria Gaynor and the Bee Gees. (Including Robin Gibb who also died this weekend to honor the "celebrities die in threes" rule.)

Listening for a couple of hours while puttering around the house, I wondered why I disliked disco so intensely when I was younger. Most of it was pleasant and easy to listen to. I was able to appreciate why, for a time, Donna Summers was Queen of the genre. Here songs were beautifully produced and she sang with beautiful tone, effortless phrasing and real power.

Turning to the Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau channel in the evening was more of a challenge. The channel, understandably, is programmed mostly with lieder composted by Shubert, Beethoven and the like. Even though I have been a fan of Fischer-Dieskau for decades, he is most noted for music I have just never warmed up to.

Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau was one of the greatest singers of the 20th century and perhaps the most recorded with over 1000 albums to his credit. My appreciation of him is based on only one of those performances.

In the early 1970's he appeared in a film version of Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro. I have watched or listened to his performance as Count Almaviva hundreds of times over the last 20 years. His performance as the count is so great, it makes it hard to appreciate other interpretations of the part. To me, he is Count Almaviva.

Rest in Peace Dietrich and Donna. (Robin Gibb too)

I'll leave you with Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau as Count Almaviva.

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