ALBUM TITLE: Schumann, Berg
WORKS: Schumann: Liederkreis; Frauenliebe und -leben; Berg: Seven Early Songs
PERFORMER: Dorothea Röschmann (soprano), Mitsuko Uchida (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: Decca 478 8439
Dorothea Röschmann’s voice is now, surely, one of the most beautiful in the lyric soprano range, having become somewhat larger and fuller than it was ten years ago – from Susanna to the Countess, in short. It is shown almost to perfection in this gorgeous recital disc, recorded (but not before an audience) in the Wigmore Hall. The acoustic of that hall is quite different without an audience, more echoey and with both voice and piano sounding a bit distant, as if one were listening in Row Q. I found it took some getting used to but when I did I was enchanted.
The first item, Schumann’s Liederkreis, Op. 39, is characteristic of Schumann in its swiftly changing moods, each of them caught precisely in a couple of minutes or so. This demands virtuosity from its performers and I find from the listener too, as he or she adjusts to a new mood only to be required to move on shortly after.
The Seven Early Songs of Berg are all twilit and melancholy, written when he was a student and more familiar with orchestral accompaniment. This recording persuades me that they are more suitably accompanied by a pianist, especially if it is Mitsuko Uchida, infinitely sensitive to every slight inflection of colour in both Berg and Schumann.
Finally a great account of Frauenliebe und -Leben, sung without exaggeration but with full, forward tone, sometimes reminiscent of Brigitte Fassbaender, but recollected in greater tranquility. The whole disc, once I’d adjusted to the sound, seemed the perfect Lieder recital.