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Andreas Scholl – Countertenor. A Portrait by Uli Aumüller and Hanne Kaisik
Production managers; Hanne Kaisik and Dieter Melzer; Portrait by Uli Aumüller and Hanne Kaisik
rec. 2002 Sound Format; PCM Stereo, Menu Languages; GB, D, F, SP, language; D, subtitle Languages; GB, D, F, SP, IT, picture Format; 16:9, Region Code; 0, DVD9/NTSC
ARTHAUS MUSIK 101445
[86:00]

 

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This is quite enjoyable but it goes back a few years. The Portrait of Scholl curated by Uli Aumüller and Hanne Kaisik is divided into a Documentary and Special Features – the latter consisting of full performances and a couple of interviews. The Documentary part shows us Scholl warming up backstage, teaching – the pupil is Alex Potter and the lesson is about Lute Songs and the meaning of English texts in particular. We see his Spartan, if still semi-chaotic, Basle flat  - he’s always on the move and his life tends to be, in his word, ‘monkish’. Not that many performers would admit so readily that they simply don’t want to see anyone for three or four days when they get back, drained, from a recital tour.

We learn of his early life at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis, hear a little about his interest in pop music, and hear from his father who notes that Scholl Junior was still singing as a soprano at sixteen. Scholl’s prescription for a successful recital is succinct and straightforward; master your repertoire and don’t take on unprepared things.

Some of the most revealing comments come in the extras. His chat with colleague Karl-Ernst Schroder, the lutenist and theorbo player, reveals some interesting thoughts on the optimum size of recital rooms, the use of discreet amplification; there are also nuggets about pre-concert nerves – Scholl’s are not as bad as some but they are there. His comments on Buxtehude, a composer he clearly admires greatly, are revealing of the musical and religious contexts – there’s a rather valuable digression with another colleague on the nature of belief. As ever Scholl is an articulate spokesman for his art.

The filmed performances are of Dowland, Richard Martin and Buxtehude – his Jubilate Domino.

A few final thoughts. This DVD was filmed in June 2002 and a lot has happened to Scholl since then. He mentions the desire to sing more opera, one that I think he has begun to fulfil, but whether it’s this or not certain new colours and shadings have come into his vocal arsenal of late. The lightness and beauty of his singing in 2002 have changed, not dramatically but certainly audibly, into something arguably more artful and less immediately sympathetic. I remember squirming at a recent recital disc in which some of his open vowels were deliberately powdery and coarse – he does things sometimes with his open ‘a’ that are clearly deliberate but to me puzzling.

Given that this portrait is now six years old, and Scholl is six years older, one is somewhat diffident about recommendations.

Jonathan Woolf


 


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