One of the upsides to volunteering at Carnegie Hall is that you get access to the volunteers’ lounge, which has not only things like free coffee and couches and a bathroom and all that, but there is also a TV feed from the stage, including sound, so you can watch and listen to whatever is going on in the main auditorium. This is pretty cool – if you don’t have a ticket to something, you can watch it from there, and although the picture isn’t great, it’s better than nothing. On Friday, I spent a worthwhile 20 minutes or so watching and listening to Yo-Yo Ma and Emanuel Ax rehearse for their recital later that evening. This was pretty neat. I wasn’t able to go to the performance because I had a ticket for another show at the same time, but I felt like I got a little snippet of it.
Hearing 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?
These are the songs and the Program Notes that I sent to my mom as per earlier discussion. WordPress is being weird for some reason about displaying the player widget for the ones that are m4a and not wav files, but I think they all work. I also managed to include one very authentic Liederabend moment: before the Wolf song begins there is great hacking and wheezing from the audience.
. . . as long as you didn’t actually say it, of course.
Here is Dorothea Röschmann at the Edinburgh International Festival, from her recital on August 19, singing Hugo Wolf’s “Erstes Liebeslied eines Mädchens” / “A girl’s first love song.” Text by Eduard Mörike.
(Texts in German and English here.)
For no reason at all, here are five songs by Hugo Wolf, performed by Dorothea Röschmann at a recital in 2007.