Live review Andreas Scholl Purcell Room, London
'In Dowland, Scholl's breath-control was simply sensational...'
Friday 01 March 1996
A thoughtfully planned programme grouped some of England's greatest and best-known vocal works with rare music of the German baroque and Handel, even if Handel in his Italian mode can't really be claimed as English or German. Audaciously, Scholl brought Dowland's "Flow My Tears", Purcell's "Musick for a While" and "Sweeter than Roses", but this is, of course, the greatest music written for his voice-range.
Beginning with Dowland, Scholl quickly demonstrated his natural ease, standing confidently still, a limpid sound, beautifully phrased, with vibrato used sparingly. Here is a musician of obvious intelligence whose voice, for one so young, is marvellously developed, pure and full, reminiscent of the young Alfred Deller, but with not a sign of any "hooting". In Dowland's "Can She Excuse My Wrongs", his breath-control was simply sensational, while in "Flow My Tears" not a sign of strain showed in the upper reaches (despite an announced cold). "Musick for a While", perhaps Purcell's greatest song, was heaven-on-legs as Scholl effortlessly glanced the high notes, bringing a mixture of urgency and simplicity to this ache-ingly beautiful work.
By contrast, the German Baroque songs of Johann Nauwach, Heinrich Albert and Johann Krieger seemed musically square and harmonically staid, even if Adam Krieger's "Der Liebe macht herrscht Tag und Nacht" stood out as a dark and despairing forerunner to Schubert's like-minded lieder.
All the music after the interval was by Handel. His cantata Vedendo amor, with its mix of recitative and aria, revealed Scholl as a natural storyteller, warmly drawing in his audience in an engagingly unaffected way. In arias from Alcina and Rinaldo, I can't recall hearing a counter-tenor whose ease of delivery and technical command made one forget how unnatural this voice really is. If there is any weakness, it's in the lower register, but with such purity of tone and such dazzling articulation, who's quibbling?
Richard Egarr had the unenviable task of accompanying Scholl at the harpsichord - unenviable because talent such as Scholl's can only reveal weakness by comparison. Egarr, in solo works by Byrd (The Bells from the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book), Purcell's Suite in G minor and Handel's Suite in E major (with the "Harmonious Blacksmith" variations), seemed short on musical imagination but more supple at least than in his role as accompanist. Scholl's forthcoming Proms performance in Bach's Magnificat must be a must.
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Ashya King missing: Police hunt five-year-old boy with brain tumour snatched from Southampton hospital by his parents
- 2 Notting Hill Carnival: Woman shares selfie after being ‘punched in face for telling man to stop groping her’
- 3 Daily Show's Jon Stewart destroys Fox News for its Ferguson coverage
- 4 Botched ice bucket challenge leaves man critically injured after plane drops hundreds of gallons of water
- 5 Friends reunion: Jennifer Aniston, Lisa Kudrow and Courteney Cox perform mini sketch on Jimmy Kimmel Live
Great British Bake Off 2014: Diana Beard quits after falling ill
Friends reunion: Jennifer Aniston, Lisa Kudrow and Courteney Cox perform mini sketch on Jimmy Kimmel Live
Breaking Bad season 6 hoax: Vince Gilligan has not confirmed a new series
Strictly Come Dancing v X Factor: Simon Cowell blasts BBC over scheduling war
Doctor Who series 8: Ofcom will not investigate lesbian kiss
Exclusive: We share blame for creating 'jihad generation', says Muslim strategist
Robin Williams Emmys tribute led by Billy Crystal criticised for including 'racist' joke about Muslim woman
The Rotherham child abuse scandal is a tale of apologists, misogyny and double standards
Scottish independence TV debate: Pumped-up Alex Salmond bounces back in bruising second round against Alistair Darling
Do you realise just how foolish the UK looks?
Ukip Douglas Carswell defection: Tory MP jumps ship to join Nigel Farage
- < Previous
- Next >