Left & Cover - Andreas Scholl. Photos - Eric Larrayadieu
On Saturday evening I had the great good fortune to hear countertenor Andreas Scholl at the City Recital Hall in Angel Place where he is currently performing with the Brandenburg Orchestra and presenting works by Giuseppe Antonio Brescianello, George Frederick Handel, Johann David Heinichen, Nicola Porpora and contemporary Italian film composer Marco Rosano.
The concert begins with the Sinfonia No 5 of Brescianello and Mr. Dyer conducts his musicians from the harpsichord. The orchestra produces a beautiful, full bodied yet light sound and superbly brings out the melodic elegance and rhythmic vitality of this wonderful piece.
With the end of the Sinfonia, an organ replaces the harpsichord and a tall and handsome Mr. Scholl makes his way to the stage for Rosano’s Stabat Mater - a piece written specifically for him and receiving its world premiere here in Sydney.
Whilst I am not a religious person, hearing this beautiful music and sweet pure voice is somehow a spiritual experience. Mr. Scholl’s voice floats effortlessly above the instruments and creates a beautiful legato line at all times. The intonation is perfect and he is fully in control of his vibrato rather than the other way around as is the case with many singers. His pianissimo straight tones are particularly breathtaking and at times seem to emanate from somewhere just above his head (perhaps in the shape of a halo?) rather than from the singer himself; they hover in space as if suspended in time and the ethereal quality is unearthly as well as remarkable given the considerable stature of this man.
The second half of the concert is devoted entirely to Baroque music and arias by Handel and Porpora which were originally written for the castrato ‘Senesino’ (1686-1758). Castrated before puberty to preserve his high pitched voice, Senesino was the undisputed superstar of his day. Fortunately for today’s countertenors they need not undergo any such operation and use instead the falsetto voice to produce the high range of the original ‘castrati’.
Mr. Scholl’s performance of these arias is impressive and his voice displays great agility and accuracy when tackling the difficult coloratura. His rendition of Porpora’s ‘Va per le vane il sangue’ combines his gloriously spinning tone and flawless legato line to create yet another special moment in the evening’s performance.
Prior to the Porpora aria, the orchestra takes centre stage with Heinichen’s Concerto in F major. This piece sees two horns and various other woodwinds added to the group and special mention should be given to horn players Darryl Poulsen and Dorée Dixon who perform outstandingly on these difficult period instruments.
For the encore Mr. Scholl presents a folk song and the harpsichord is turned sideways in the style of a grand piano. The singer stands in the bow of the instrument and given the height of the harpsichord and that of the singer the visual effect is quite humorous. Accompanied by the harpsichord, the performance draws to a touching close with this simple and beautiful song, beautifully sung.
Venue: City Recital Hall, Angel Place SYDNEY
Dates: Fri 22, Sat 23, Wed 27, Fri 29 February & Sat 1 March @ 7pm **EXTRA SHOW ANNOUNCED - Tuesday 26 February **
Tickets: $24.50 to $111.50 Booking fees apply.
Bookings: City Recital Hall Box Office 02 8256 2222 www.cityrecitalhall.com.au | Brandenburg Box Office 02 9328 7581