Dorothea Röschmann / Portraits

Dorothea_Ro_schmann_Portraits_Sony_Strauss_Schubert_Wolf_Cover_ArtHearing this recording was a little anti-climactic, in that with the exception of Schumann’s Op. 135 Mary Queen of Scots songs, I already had a sense of how Röschmann interprets this material. The recital moves forward through time, beginning with Schubert songs, then the Schumann, and Strauss and Wolf at the end. I was struck by the same things that I have been in the past with her performances – the way the mood shifts between sets of songs, as well as within songs themselves, and how every phrase has an interpretive role to play. Mary Stuart has a different quality of character than Gretchen or Mignon; and Röschmann gives the Strauss songs, especially “Die Nacht,” a kind of shimmering quality that is distinct from the other selections. I also found myself appreciating Malcolm Martineau’s piano playing, especially in Strauss’s “Schlechtes Wetter” and Schubert’s “Gretchen am Spinnrade,” where he does those repeating patterns in a more prickly sort of way than I often hear; throughout that song, his playing gives me that feeling of the piano part conversing with the vocal line: or maybe not conversing, exactly, but articulating parts of Gretchen’s character and what she is thinking that aren’t in the vocal part alone.

After I listened to this, I thought about the first recording of Röschmann’s I encountered, the Handel Nine German Arias one, and how at the time since I was expecting a more “early music” sound with less vibrato, I didn’t like it – but I realized years later that despite not having a reaction of immediate and overwhelming enthusiasm, I had unwittingly managed basically to memorize the thing, I had listened to it that often. Her voice has changed since then – high notes take more effort, and her intonation can be iffy up there (e.g. in live versions of “Schlechtes Wetter,” though not on this recording as far as I can tell) and I think the sound doesn’t have quite the same gloss as it did ten years ago, but that said, I can and do listen to her sing pretty much anything over and over. Not just the sound of her voice itself (she can still lay out those ringing, bell-like high notes, like in “Die Nacht” when she feels like it; and as I remember feeling when I heard her as the Countess that one time in L.A., there is a quality to the voice in general that just gets me every time) but all the little details of the interpretation too. I said once after hearing “Der König in Thule” in a recital that I wished I could ask her to do it again, because I was fairly sure there were bits of detail that I had missed – and hey, here it is! to repeat and absorb at leisure.

If I was in the business of making requests, I would ask her to do a CD just of Hugo Wolf songs – just for fun, you know?

4 thoughts on “Dorothea Röschmann / Portraits

  1. I *love* this album 🙂 I think the performance really delivers on the concept of character portraits (and isn’t it wonderful to have the interview to learn more about her approach to characterisation?). You can really hear how her interpretations on this album have deepened over the years compared with recitals of the same material from 2006/7; and what superb playing from Malcolm Martineau. It’s a great musical partnership.

    I know what you mean about hearing her work really hard for those high notes these days. It seems to happen more often when she’s projecting over an orchestra so it will be interesting to hear her Mozart arias album when it is released. For me, DR’s lieder singing is her most beautiful these days. I’ve been so enjoying picking up all the subtle tonal and dynamic changes that aren’t as easy to hear with broadcast performances. I imagine the sound on this album is pretty close to what is like to hear DR sing live?

    Also – I’m enjoying seeing the blog snow again. 🙂


    1. I like the blog snow too – I always forget that WordPress does this in December and it’s a nice little surprise.

      Re: Lieder – I agree, I think she’s at the top of her game there these days. I remember reading a review of a Carnegie Hall concert of hers from somewhere c. 1999, and the reviewer said she seemed ill-at-ease – certainly not the case now! It does sound a lot like her live performances, in terms of nuances that don’t come through in the broadcasts.

      I’m curious how the Mozart album will sound too – maybe she’ll sing some material there that she hasn’t done on stage in a while, like parts of Clemenza. I’d be interested to see what she’d do with some of Vitellia’s arias now, for example.


  2. A Mozart arias album by Frau Röschman coming up? Wow have not heard anything of this before; is there any more information anywhere?


    1. I spotted the recording announcement on her agency website: “Dorothea Röschmann joins Daniel Harding and the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra for a recording of Mozart Arias to be released on Sony Classics”. The recording was scheduled for November. There doesn’t seem to be any information about which Mozart arias were recorded or when the album will be released, but perhaps someone else knows more?


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