Live review Amanda Roocroft Wigmore Hall, London

Amanda Roocroft has a lot of voice, a sound technique, and a big career. She's a young singer who's been around. The voice sounds lived- in, mature, worldly. Which leads the listener to expect more, much more, than she has to give. In the testing environment of the recital hall, she is far from ready to hold a handful of songs in the palm of her hand and share them with a discerning audience - to draw that audience into her confidence, to identify the defining character of each composer, each song, to offer insight and illumination. Who's to say when, if, she will be. It's that elusive little word - artistry. You can't define it, but you know when you're in the presence of it.

Tuesday's Wigmore Hall recital was sold out. The atmosphere was welcoming, expectant, the programme of Haydn, Schubert, Strauss, Falla and Britten well chosen, rich in opportunity. But even before the Haydn scena Berenice, che fai? had run its course, the doubts and impatience began to set in. The vibrant timbre of the voice is arresting, full of dramatic potential right down to the grainy mix in the lower register, a kind of chesting effect without the stress and strain. But it's one colour, one pitch of intensity. No specifics. A generalised expression ("with feeling"), which tells us nothing about Berenice's plight, except to say - well, actually, she's just like all the others.

And so to Schubert. And were these songs to be just like all the others? Roocroft chose a lovelorn five, which may not have been wise from the point of view of variety, but then again they're different songs, each a world of its own. The accomplished lieder singer will find the way in, inhabit the text, use the colour of individual words and phrases to engender mood, atmosphere. But Roocroft cares little for word-colour or, if she does, is unaware of how poorly she projects it. The words of a song like Schubert's Heimliches Lieben - a song about feelings too intense to be expressed - should burn their way into one's consciousness.

Roocroft has to find more variety, more nuance in her lieder singing. Malcolm Martineau showed her the way into Strauss's Morgen, placing, floating, pedalling his introduction to perfection, but her reluctance, or inability, to pick up on the nocturnal, after-hours intimacy of his playing was symptomatic of her shortcomings. Even one listener is too many for this song. She should be aware of it as a shared confidence and find the dynamic subtleties to convey that. But, again, it was left to Martineau to "voice" the silence, the unanswered question, in its closing page.

Roocroft can sing very prettily. Strauss suits her well when it's youthful, playful, springlike (memories of her precocious operatic debut as Sophie in Der Rosenkavalier). She seemed at home, too, in a song by Falla, Nana, etching in the fioritura of the line charmingly. Mind you, she might still have been singing in that strange universal tongue of hers: only one line of Spanish came right off the page, in the song Polo, and for a moment the Roocroft chest-voice smouldered. But otherwise the sameness of the delivery, the absence of character and personality was dispiriting. One can applaud her for including Britten's On This Island, but where was the irony, the cynicism of the Auden poems? Buried somewhere in that elusive word - artistry.

EDWARD SECKERSON

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Original Netflix series such as Orange Is The New Black are to benefit from a 'substantial' increase in investment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
'Eminem's recovery from substance abuse has made him a more potent performer, with physical charisma and energy he never had before'
musicReview: Wembley Stadium ***
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Super Mario crushes the Messi dream as Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil

    Super Mario crushes the Messi dream

    Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil
    Saharan remains may be evidence of the first race war, 13,000 years ago

    The first race war, 13,000 years ago?

    Saharan remains may be evidence of oldest large-scale armed conflict
    Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

    Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

    Researchers hope eye tests can spot ‘biomarkers’ of the disease
    Sex, controversy and schoolgirl schtick

    Meet Japan's AKB48

    Pop, sex and schoolgirl schtick make for controversial success
    In pictures: Breathtaking results of this weekend's 'supermoon'

    Weekend's 'supermoon' in pictures

    The moon appeared bigger and brighter at the weekend
    Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

    How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

    A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
    The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

    The evolution of Andy Serkis

    First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
    You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

    You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

    Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
    Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

    Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

    Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
    Children's books are too white, says Laureate

    Children's books are too white, says Laureate

    Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
    Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

    Blackest is the new black

    Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
    Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

    Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

    The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
    Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

    Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

    From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
    Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

    Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

    Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
    Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

    Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

    When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor