Dorothea Roschmann and Malcolm Martineau

Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Glasgow

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Keith Bruce, Five stars

FOR the second concert of the second of pianist Malcolm Martineau’s Life in Song recital series, which will be broadcast on BBC Radio 3 at the end of March, Dorothea Roschmann performed a programme of lieder that was as perfect an introduction to German art song as one might wish.

“Performed” is the precise word too, because Roschmann really lived these songs, and served them in a careful sequence so that the emotional rollercoaster of the recital was unmissable, even for those unfamiliar with the language of Goethe.

Franz Schubert’s settings of his verse, followed by Nachtstuck, setting Johann Mayrhofer, saw her in full expressive mode from the beginning, with Martineau, as always, the most observant of partners. In the Mahler Ruckert-Lieder that followed – a distinctly different dramatic approach seemingly agreed in their minute off-stage – the poise in his playing, and in the transition between songs, was the perfect accompaniment to her incredible instrument and her remarkable fluctuation in dynamics between syllables of the same word.

The Ruckert-Lieder were significantly re-ordered to place the up-beat fifth song before the more despairing fourth and give the group a structure that was then mirrored after the interval in both Robert Schumann’s setting of the German versions of the verse of Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots (surely an inclusion specifically made to please the local audience) and Richard Wagner’s five Wesendonck Lieder. With each successive group of songs, the sophistication of the relationship between singer and accompanist seemed further enhanced. Martineau clearly led the dramatic narrative in the pause before the last of the Schumann songs and the partnership in the settings of Mathilde Wesendonck is, being Wagner, simply of its own world. A little encore of Liszt was clearly designed not to erase the memory of the shattering, concluding Traume.