Andreas Scholl returns to Decca with a recording of vocal jewels by the great baroque composer Henry Purcell, including 'When I Am Laid In Earth' from Dido and Aeneas. This is Andreas Scholl's first ever recording of the music of Purcell and his uniquely beautiful voice is perfectly suited to the English composer's plangent melodies. The album includes pieces written for the stage, the church and the private chamber, some of which Andreas Scholl has sung in recital for many years, and some he sings here for the first time.
R E V I E W S:
PURCELLRead moreIf Music Be the Food of Love. Sound the Trumpet. Strike the Viol. Chacony. Fairest Isle. What Power Art Thou. Chacony in g. One Charming Night. Sweeter Than Roses. When I Am Laid in Earth. The Gordian Knot: Incidental Music. Here the Deities Approve. Music for a While. O Dive Custos. O Solitude, My Sweetest Choice. Pavan in g. Now That the Sun Hath Veiled His Light • Andreas Scholl, Christophe Dumaux (ct); Stefano Montanari, cond; Accademia Bizantina • DECCA 1492302 (76:41)
One countertenor stands out among the fine ones singing today, according to the Fanfare reviewer quoted on the cover of this Andreas Scholl recital. Who am I to argue with an (anonymous) Fanfare writer about a voice as lovely as that of Andreas Scholl? Especially when Scholl is singing some of the best Purcell. Some listeners, though, find Scholl pretty, but not full of character. I find myself satisfied with the beauty of his countertenor, its strength and occasional expressivity, as in the vibrato he adds to Fairest Isle. Scholl is accompanied here by a small orchestra and both are recorded with particular warmth and sweet resonance. (On Sound the Trumpet and O Dive Custos, he is joined by countertenor Christophe Dumaux.) The playing of the orchestra is not quite lush, but certainly lovely and sensitive. The band sounds appropriately creepy on What Power Art Thou, generally known as The Cold Song, and here is one place where Scholl acts out the part. It sounds fierce in the first movement of the incidental music to The Gordian Knot Untied. I can’t imagine a more effective performance. Scholl’s rendition of When I Am Laid in Earth (Dido’s Lament) will take some getting used to. Dido is, in my world, unmistakably feminine. Scholl isn’t as explosive here as my favorite, Janet Baker. But I admire the zest of the music-making here, the power and pure tone of Scholl’s singing, and the beautifully recorded instrumental music as well. I might almost recommend this disc for the incidental music, but I like Scholl too much singing Purcell to do that to him.
FANFARE: Michael Ullman
Scholl’s voice is so beautiful that even listeners who normally have trouble with the countertenor sound will be won over. With dozens of CDs and videos already on the market, many of them big sellers and mostly featuring music of Handel, Bach, Buxtehude, Dowland and the like, it was only a matter of time before Scholl got to the music of Henry Purcell (who himself sang countertenor — as well as baritone). This CD is glorious from start to end; a pair of duets with fellow countertenor Christophe Dumaux (“Sound the trumpet” from Come ye sons of art and the lesser-known “O dive custos” from Elegy on the death of Queen Mary) offer a master class in exquisite blending, fine Baroque singing and ornamentation, and present opportunities for comparisons between countertenor voices. Dumaux’s sits a bit higher and lacks some of Scholl’s warmth, but is also a lovely instrument. One of Purcell’s greatest arias, “What power art thou” (a.k.a. the “Cold Song”) is here performed with such sureness of pitch, eerie expressivity and purposefully audible breaths that it enchants as much as it terrifies. It is helped by the striking playing of the Accademia Bizantina under Stefano Montanari, who gives the lie to the theory that early music need be performed in a sterile manner. The band’s solos from The Gordian Knot Unty’d, King Arthur and other pieces are exquisitely, vividly played. With the surprising “When I am laid in earth” from Dido and Aeneas, normally the property of mezzosopranos, gender is quickly and utterly forgotten in this outpouring of grief. This is a major release, simply stunning.
Fairy Queen, Z 629: One charming nightby Henry Purcell Performer:
Andreas Scholl (Countertenor)
Period: Baroque Written: 1692; England
O solitude, my sweetest choice, Z 406by Henry Purcell Performer:
Andreas Scholl (Countertenor)
Period: Baroque Written: by 1687; England