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