The basic reason for my measurement of this baritone is the manner in which he was able to peer more deeply, in my estimation, than other great performers, into that untrammeled inner space of a kind of synthesis formed by both a spiritual and intellectual marriage which, even among the great, creates a world of rare power of communication.
This man was able to hold unequaled command of Opera and Lieder in a spellbinding manner. I have always felt that he was singing only to me - that I was the only person in his presence. Not all of the great musicians in the recordings extant can do this, despite their impressive gifts.
He was also impressive in appearance. He was tall and had the face of a movie idol. I have a picture of his standing besides Bernstein, Horowitz, Menuhin, Rostropovitch,and others who were participating in the famous 1976 Carnegie Concert. They were all singing the 'hallelujah' of Handel as Finale to this gala, and this wonderful singer towered over the rest of this distinguished coterie! By the way, get this recording, and you will hear Fischer-Diskau singing Lieder with none other than Horowitz as his pianist - it is really a rarity.
Among some of the others who share this kind of gift of communication; well, I think of Fritz Kreisler at the height of his career, along with Casals in his Bach playing, or Du Pre in her Elgar Concerto, or Lipatti in his Chopin. There are a few others, but I shall not regale you with any more of this personal view .
Very simply, I felt as if I should share with you my personal genuflection dealing with a level of Poesy we witness so rarely in our experiences.