In her third performance in the Lied Cycle of the Teatro de la Zarzuela (she debuted very young in 2002, with the pianist Graham Johnson), Dorothea Röschmann has reaped one of those triumphs that have all the signs of being sincere by the public ( rewards what is really heard, without presuppositions) and of a magnitude that seemed to provoke even a certain surprise. It has many, many virtues the German soprano, and some small blotches just overshadowed a recital that already promised much on paper by the very intelligent preparation of the program: few works, but extraordinarily well-matched and spiritually interrelated, including a curious underground connection, as It will be seen right away.
The first part was opened with four of the songs that poor Mignon sings to the harpist in The years of learning of Wilhelm Meister, that have inspired dozens of composers, but still have in the Lieder pioneers composed by the almost adolescent Schubert and the mature Schubert to one of his best and deepest musical supporters. Since the formidable Daisy on the spinning wheel, the Austrian had shown that he had an innate gift to dive into the mind, enthusiasm, desires and tribulations of a very young woman. Of all this there is in the texts of Goethe and Röschmann gave the best of himself in Nur wer die Sehnsucht kennt, the most theatrical of the four, especially in its central section. Kennst du das Land, on the contrary, it sounded too decompensated in its two tempi opposed. Schubert marks them as Mässig (moderate) and Etwas geschwinder (somewhat faster), but this second was notoriously faster, which reduced some of the expressive force and credibility to the girl's desire to travel "to the land where the lemon tree blooms". Then, the Schubertian section closed with a model interpretation of Nachtstück, one of those little gems that rarely appear in conservative programs of singers.
Works by Schubert, Mahler, Schumann and Wagner. Dorothea Röschmann (soprano) and Malcolm Martineau (piano). Teatro de la Zarzuela, February 25.
What was already evident from this first block of Lieder was that Röschmann has two infallible tricks to face this repertoire: first, a voice of enormous quality, of very beautiful timbre and, which is much less usual, homogeneous in all the registers; in second, a very complete technique, which allows him to mold that voice at will, to refine each and every one of the notes with apparent ease and surround them with the dynamics that he considers most appropriate. However, some small nuances not so positive are also appreciated. The most uncomfortable is perhaps that his diction is not always as clear as it should be: some final consonants are lost, some syllables sound blurred and the vowels tend to be in general excessively closed and little contrasting. It is also surprising in a singer of his technique to introduce breaths in moments that break the unit or the global arc of the phrase. Finally, and this is an appreciation as subjective as the previous ones, her mentality seems more that of an operatic, not that of a liederista. In the first field it has been a quarter of a century triumphing in the best theaters of the world, and its note towards the scene in which it does not finish building some songs as a small microcosm closed on itself, in which the music explains the text and vice versa. Even admirably sung, the songs can hobble on the side of the poetic construction, so to speak, and that is where, sometimes, Röschmann's art is not up to his musicality, his technique and his greatest treasure: voice.
The Songs about poems by Rückert Mahler moved us to a stage parallel to that which had shaped Schubert at the dawn of Romanticism: the splendor of the genre just a century later, after the glorious chapters -to stick to the essential- written by Robert Schumann and Hugo Wolf (the latter yes appeared in the program of that first recital in Madrid in 2002). This Mahlerian collection is not the most suitable for Röschmann's voice, since the look of his texts and the music that Mahler devised for them benefit from a more serious voice. The best sung was, again, the most dramatic or theatrical song and the one that best allows her to exhibit her qualities, Um Mitternacht, that includes a tessitura of almost two octaves and in which Röschmann showed equally his serious notes, always timbredas and with body, and his excellent acute, never strait nor forced. The way in which he sang, never in the same way, the authentic mantra of Rückert's poem (that "at midnight" that gives it title and that ends each of the five stanzas) was, without a doubt, one of the moments Remember in the afternoon. The other undisputed masterpiece of the collection, Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen, which he decided to place at the end, had less dramatic power, although in the final two verses the extraordinary musicality of the soprano, a singer of great great details, became evident again.
Join in the second part the Songs about María Estuardo's poems of Schumann and the Songs on poems by Mathilde Wesendonck Wagner's was a very happy occurrence. And the reasons are not easy to summarize. In both cases it is the last songs composed by their authors, which means a lot in the case of Schumann, who was a federic lieder, and much less in Wagner's, who barely cultivated the genre. The first offered the songs as a Christmas gift (somewhat gloomy) to his wife, Clara, at Christmas 1853, when his mind was already seriously alienated and when he glimpsed his own ending: hence he felt the urge to put himself in the skin of the unfortunate Scottish queen, these days of today for the premiere of a film dedicated to her figure. In Wagner's case, the five songs about his muse's poems are both a sample of love, a birthday present (in the case of an arrangement of Träume for violin and chamber orchestra that Wagner directed at the Wesendonck mansion on December 23, 1857) and, fundamentally, a preparatory study for Tristan and Isolde, the opera aroused by the passion that was professed and that represents like no other the indissociability of love and death. Im Treibhaus anticipates the prelude to the third act of the opera, while the aforementioned Träume seems to presage the duo of the second act.
But there is another connection beyond the musical that makes these two works fraternize so well together and that is also directly related to death. The fact is not well known, but the tombs of Mathilde Wesendonck and the Schumann (Robert and Clara) are separated by only a dozen meters away in the Alter Friedhof, the old Bonn cemetery. Schumann died in the sanatorium of Endenich, on the outskirts of the city, while Mathilde, although she never lived in Bonn, rests there because Hans, her son, who was the first member of the family to die, did in 1882. And it was his parents who decided then that they would rest there, when the time came, both they and their daughter Myrrha.
In the songs of Schumann, Röschmann was in general very contained and, if it can be said thus, not at all empathic with the terrible but of María Estuardo. There was a certain tendency to hurry in about Lieder that they cry out for calm, reflection and calm: the first song was not performed "ziemlich langsam"(Quite slow), as Schumann wanted, nor his plea to his cousin Elizabeth was especially"leidenschaftlich"(Passionate), nor its contained but lacerating Farewell from the world He did not have the slowness that the composer claims. But Röschmann was leaving here and there extraordinary samples of his half voice, notes of high school phrasing and yes that knew how to transmit the essential stripping of this music, written by a creatively agonizing Schumann, in the concluding prayer, which was, by far, the best of this block.
Also they Wesendonck-Lieder they benefit from a more serious voice than that of the German soprano, who has also begun to incorporate Wagner's operas into her repertoire (Tannhäuser) without leaving the Mozarts that have given him such fame and prestige. Here his interpretation was more, with extraordinary details in Im Triebhaus (especially the way of interpreting the appoggiatura at the end of the sentence "Saget mir, warum ihr klagt?"), A perfect construction of the atmosphere of Schmerzen (with a diction, curiously, much more careful) and a very convincing fusion of love and death in Träume, which drew enthusiastic applause from the public, more and more absorbed and involved in one of those recitals that require a knowledgeable public, and the one that goes faithfully to the Teatro de la Zarzuela for 25 years without a doubt is. And these two collections of songs should, of course, be the soundtrack of everyone who visits the Alter Friedhof in Bonn.
It has not been mentioned until now, but Malcolm Martineau was a decisive factor for the concert to maintain its high level and musical interest. The Briton debuted in this cycle in 1995 with Bryn Terfel, both very young, and that's just how he remembered the recent presentation of the Welsh singer at the Teatro Real. Now Martineau combs already abundant gray hair and is a very experienced pianist and required by many great singers. His pulsation, his musicality, his use of the pedal, his control of the dynamics, the transparency of his chords, the construction of the harmonic progressions, the clear presence of the bass or his way of discreetly promoting the best virtues of Röschmann from the keyboard were Identity signs of a first-class escort. Modestly and without fanfare, the German soprano applauded and clamored for solo applause for her partner in the final greetings and the audience justly and generously dispensed them. The coherence of the program had continuity in the two tips, although, contrary to what Martineau announced, only the second song was born from a poem by Heinrich Heine: It's muss ein wunderbarer sein, by Franz Liszt, and Die Lotosblume, by Robert Schumann, another gift to Clara, on this occasion shortly before her desired wedding. Two final notes of optimism in a program dominated by despair.