May Madness Mix 1: Röschmann/Uchida (Wigmore Hall, 2 and 5 May 2015)

Röschmann and Uchida fans will be glad to hear that these two performances were recorded for future release by Decca. Luckily there was little and rather unintrusive coughing (though people were more careful not to cover the singing than the solo piano).


thanks to thadieu’s camera (but not to Wigmore’s lighting system)

Robert Schumann
Liederkreis Op. 39
Alban Berg
7 frühe Lieder
Robert Schumann
Frauenliebe und -leben Op. 42

Nur wer die Sennsucht kennt

Seeing as how I’m hardly a lieder expert, I’ll direct you to earworm’s review of the Röschamann/Uchida Carnegie Hall show for a more indepth reading of this program. I had heard some of the songs before but most of them I think were new to me.

Partly it was deliberate. Maybe this isn’t the way to listen to lieder, but perhaps the main draw of a recital for me is basking in the singer’s sound; you get way more singing from a favourite voice than in a staged opera and quite possibly more personal involvement so I take it as moment to savour rather than overintellectualise (for once!).

It’s nice if I understand what’s being said – and considering the slow approach, DR’s excellent diction in German and my occasional familiarity with German phrases I could understand more than I thought I would – but it’s not essential. Judging by earworm’s reaction to the lyrics of Frauenliebe und -leben I may have not missed all that much 😉 Also, given DR’s well known intensity of expression you get a hell of a lot of feeling from the way she sings it – whether that is what the song is exactly about or not seems rather marginal.

2 May. I’m also not a piano aficionado but thadieu told me afterwards that Uchida is specifically known for her soft approach. That came off very clear (and lovely) indeed; she also got visibly energised and downright playful on the happier tunes, very endearing to watch. On the other hand you have Röschmann, loved for her very involved/enthusiastic take on music. Tossing the two together made for a performance where contrasts were markedly enphasized. Hearing two performers with clear – and by the sounds of it, very different personalities – duet through intimate pieces was unsually engrossing. Glad we’re seeing it all again on Tuesday as sometimes I felt I needed to focus on one or the other or get a bit overwhelmed.

When I saw DR last year I let enthusiasm dictate and bought a front row seat. After the documented hearing hazard, I thought it would be wiser to book a seat further back (4th row this time). Well… though I still had an excellent view of her cute hands I can’t say my ears were any better protected. The sound was smooth throughout, though.

In spite of basking in the sound being fine and jolly I don’t know that I particularly liked the music. I think it might indeed help being more familiar with the tunes, as some of the shorter ones seemed to go by before I had enough time to digest them. I remember getting a bit of a kick out of Berg’s “Nacht”, which I thought came off somewhere between creepy and sexy whether that was the original intention or not.

5 May. On Tuesday I had a seat in the last row and it turns out that is the right distance I need to best admire Röschmann’s singing live. Comparatively thadieu and I agreed she was more relaxed this time. The material presented felt more enjoyable on second listen indeed, so maybe I was wrong about thinking basking in the sound is all I need with lieder. There was beautiful communication between piano and voice especially in some quiet moments where the voice picks up and then carries the same note, here matching the level of softness as well. This time I could pay a lot more attention to the shorter songs, which came off lovely in their fleeting simplicity. However Röschmann’s voice seems to me too worldly for girlishness/innocence and better suited to melancholy. All in all, very impressive couple of performances from these two.

About dehggial

Mozart/Baroque loving red dragon

Posted on May 10, 2015, in live performances, sopranos, wigmore hall and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Lucky you getting to hear it all twice! I’ve heard DR from the front row in a small space: definitely a documented hearing hazard. I like hearing her from mid/back of the hall or up in the balcony – but then one misses the facial expressions and the hands.

    Re: girlishness/innocence. What do you think of her take on “Gretchen am Spinnrade” on the Portraits CD? I think she gets it there – though of course, in that case, Gretchen is young and girlish, but also by that point rather unhappy and not so innocent anymore. With the Frauenliebe und -Leben, I do like the melancholy bits the best.

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