Dorothea Röschmann / Graham Johnson - Wigmore Hall, 20 November 2008
Schumann Gedichte der Königin Maria Stuart
Wolf Nimmersatte Liebe; An eine Äolsharfe; Erstes Liebeslied eines Mädchens; Denk' es, o Seele!; Im Frühling; Gesang Weylas; Begegnung
Mahler Rheinlegendchen, Wo die schönen Trompeten blasen, Wer hat dies Liedlein erdacht, Lob des hohen Verstandes and Verlorne Müh from 'Des Knaben Wunderhorn'
Brahms 8 Zigeunerlieder
Encores: Schubert Nur wer die Sehnsucht kennt; Wolf In der Frühe; Mahler Selbstgefühl from 'Des Knaben Wunderhorn'
Dorothea Röschmann's pearly top notes still emerge effortlessly, but her voice seems to be in a process of transition. It's gaining weight, the centre is dropping, but it's not quite there yet. To speculate how much of this is natural evolution and how much is being hurried along by Röschmann's acceptance of some meatier roles recently and in the near future is probably fruitless (but nevertheless 'interesting').
Schumann's Mary Stuart settings are low-lying for a soprano, and Röschmann never sounded quite at ease in the range. It was not a promising start. But the rest of her programme rarely dipped quite as low, and she seemed more comfortable vocally and more freely expressive.
Her recital art is all about nuance and inflection. Although she's capable of grand gesture and bold dramatic expression in the opera house, she wisely leaves that behind in the concert hall.
We saw a small, solid woman in a black lace strapless sheath and matching bolero, her sensible brown bob uncombed, her face makeup-free, like a librarian trying on a party frock. Her comportment has a stillness born of inner calm. Her facial expression is more conversational then stagey. There are none of the diva flourishes employed by the less wise, so distancing in the intimate atmosphere of the Wigmore Hall. Röschmann's effects are achieved more subtly, almost by voice alone.
She explored some of Wolf's most erotically-charged Mörike settings, traversing seamlessly from the sly innuendo of Erstes Liebeslied eines Mädchens to the nostalgic Im Frühling, always conscious of both the words and their meaning.
She was equally at home in the rustic idiom of the second half and its folk song texts drawn by Mahler and Brahms. Here, as if to compensate for the lack of lyrical subtlety, she employed a much broader range of vocal characterisation, peaking with the animal farm of Mahler's Lob des hohen Verstandes, its donkey, cuckoo and nightingale all brilliantly evoked. If the Zigeuner Lieder all had a rather samey feel, despite their stirring rhythms, this is as much Brahms's fault as Röschmann's. The contrast with the first of her three encores, where she completely inhabited the tormented teenager of Schubert's plaintive Nur wer die Sehnsucht kennt, showed this only too clearly.
The concert was recorded for broadcast on BBC Radio 3 on 25 November 2008 at 7 p.m (that's today!) and available for a week afterwards on the IPlayer.