The portraits referred to here are musical ones: German soprano Dorothea Röschmann offers Lieder devoted to some of the common women of German Romantic song: Mignon, Gretchen, and Mary Stuart. There are also some Strauss songs that don't fit the concept, and the program is similar enough to any number of other Lieder recitals. The news, though, lies in Röschmann's daring interpretations, especially of the group of songs by Schubert. They are likely to be a matter of taste, but nobody is going to be able to accuse Röschmann of merely following in others' footsteps. She is an operatic specialist with a middle-aged, slightly dark voice, and it's hard to imagine her as Goethe's waif Mignon, although in Schumann's brief Gedichte von Königin Maria Stuart, Op. 135, she's more natural. But her boldest strokes have to do not with characterization, but with rhythm: Schubert's strophic structures are pushed and pulled into shapes where they seem closer to the Hugo Wolf Mignon settings at the end rather than to the early 19th century. You could argue that Schubert's settings presupposed a dramatic development that needed to be brought out more, or that Röschmann's singing merely distorts a song like Gretchen am Spinnrade, which depends on motor rhythms it doesn't get here. You pay your money and you take your chances, but the sensitive accompaniment by pianist Malcolm Martineau is hard to fault either way.
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AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|Gedichte der Königin Maria Stuart, Op. 135|