Forty-four years ago, Andrew Porter, that peerless and prolific music reviewer of The New Yorker magazine, cast a prophecy:
I trust I am wrong, but sometimes it seems to me that when Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Elisabeth Söderström, Peter Pears and Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau retire, lieder singing will become a lost art. There is no one in the younger generation who commands as they do the understanding and the technique that bring German songs to life.
Fortunately, for the German Lied, particularly Franz Schubert, and for post-Millennium performers and audiences, Porter was proved wrong. Those four exemplary singers he rightly singles out (and, before them, the likes of Gerhard Hüsch, Elisabeth Schumann, and Elena Gerhardt), now all long gone, as is Porter himself. Their artistic lineage is cherished and honoured by a generation of fine artists whose technical prowess, inextricable from an innate understanding of music and texts, imbues their performances with beauty of sound and underlying wisdom. Among them (but never exclusively) are Christian Gerhaher, Matthias Goerne, Ian Bostridge, and Joyce DiDonato.