COMPOSERS: Schumann,Strauss and Schubert,Wolf
ALBUM TITLE: Portraits
WORKS: Schumann: Gedichte der Königin Maria Stuart, Op. 135; plus Lieder by Wolf, Strauss and Schubert
PERFORMER: Dorothea Röschmann (soprano), Malcolm Martineau (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 88883785852
Artists develop in interesting directions as they get older. Recorded just before her 46th birthday, this recital by the German soprano Dorothea Röschmann represents the finest singing I have encountered from her, either live in concert or on disc.
Her programme has a theme to at least the greater part of it. She describes it as a ‘portrait gallery’, with two examples from Goethe – Gretchen in Faust and Mignon in Wilhelm Meister’s Apprenticeship – plus Schumann’s portrayal of Mary, Queen of Scots in his late song-cycle Poems of Queen Mary Stuart. Gretchen is presented in three settings by Schubert, the enigmatic, semi-androgynous (as liner note writer Suzanne Stähr points out) Mignon in four each by Schubert and Wolf. Sneaking in by the back door are four popular songs by Richard Strauss, which don’t really represent portraits in any meaningful sense; but when they’re performed as marvellously as here it would be churlish to object.
Röschmann’s slightly mottled soprano may not have an ideally wide coloristic range, but it’s remarkable how much variety of tone and timbre she brings to this programme. These are considered interpretations, living out the spirit of the texts and the music with outstanding insight and precision. In everything she does, Röschmann is ably seconded by her accompanist, Malcolm Martineau, whose most noticeable moment comes with the long introduction to Strauss’s Morgen! but whose pianistic excellence is evident throughout.