Andreas SchollLeft – Andreas Scholl. Photo – Eric Larrayadieu

Part of Musica Viva’s international program, Andreas Scholl’s series of concerts finished with huge acclaim in the Adelaide Town Hall on March the 25th. A fine program of Baroque vocal and instrumental music by H. Purcell and G. F. Handel articulated insightful imagination and virtuosity.

Andreas Scholl is a singer with an immense gift – a crystal clear voice and effortless vocal technique which allows him to communicate the most delicate human emotions. He is also a prolific musician involved in applied music research and collaborative work which was demonstrated by the programming of this concert.

Although the event was dominated by the celebrity of the distinguished countertenor, the program was an expression of exquisite taste. Instrumental music for continuo instruments complemented vocal music from various genres, illuminating peripheral repertoire such as Purcell’s incidental music, original interpretations and works from Handel’s Roman period.

Setting the scene for the unfamiliar interpretations of Dido’s Lament (Dido and Aeneas, 1689) and Man is for a Woman Made (The Mock Marriage, 1965), the celebrated Music for a While (Oedipus, 1692) and Sweeter than Roses (Pausanius, 1695) opened the concert. Despite the fact that audiences expect to hear female voices singing Dido’s Lament, Andreas Scholl’s interpretation has an invincible authentic sincerity and lightness of tone. This is not the only female aria which he has adopted to his timbre. The Habanera from Bizet’s Carmen is another successful experiment. Contemplative focus marked the performance of O Solitude. In the humorous Man is for a Woman Made, Scholl used his baritone quality and invited the audience to take part in the refrain. Having sung with Andreas Scholl is a memory to cherish.

This magnificent collaboration between Australian musicians and international stars included Daniel Yeadon (viola da gamba and Baroque cello), Tommie Anderson (lute and theorbo), and the keyboard player Tamar Halperin. They performed with a great sense of balance and sensitivity to phrasing and dynamics. Tamar Halperin demonstrated superb interpretation skills in both the simple Harpsichord Suite in G minor by Purcell and the more demanding Suite No. 2 in F major by Handel. The second half of the concert included also a solo for viola da gamba – the original version of Handel’s Sonata in G minor known as a violin sonata, and Tommie Anderson’s own arrangement for theorbo of Handel’s Tunes for Clay’s Musical Clock.

Handel’s two cantatas Vedendo Amor (HWV175) and Nel dolce tempo (HWV135) were the high point of the concert with their intricate and dramatic vocal idiom. Andreas Scholl captured the various nuances of the narrative by displaying striking recitative declamation and legato singing. A long trill in the first cantata and a long messa di voce in the second stunned the listener. Andreas Scholl can manipulate each tone with perfection within the limited range of his counter tenor voice. The voice has a sublime quality and the aptitude to raise the most profound sentiment in the listener. The sustained high note at the end of Handel’s Ombra mai fu was heavenly.

If anything needs to be criticised, it is the English diction which needs a slight touch of strength in the consonants to be more comprehensible. Baroque theatrical gesture would have pleased the eye by amplifying visually the elevated emotional charge inherent in the music from this period.

The attractively ornamented and acoustically endowed Adelaide Town Hall was the ideal backdrop of this captivating Baroque concert. The space was packed. The expectant audience was enchanted and delighted.

To hear a recording of the concert go to 5mbs 99.9 FM on Sunday the 17th of April at 2pm. For more information about the program and for extra materials about the concert, including an interview with Andreas Scholl and Tamar Halperin, go to Musica Viva’s web page.

Musica Viva Australia in association with the State Opera of South Australia presents

Venue: Adelaide Town Hall
Date: 25 Mar 2011
Tickets: $44.30 – $39.30

Written by Daniela Kaleva, University of South Australia

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