Andreas Scholl (countertenor) - The Voice 2 rec.
1996-2009 HARMONIA MUNDI HMX2908458.59 [2 CDs: 153.12]
On opening out the rather lavish, expensively-packaged fold-out double-disc set (a cardboard case, rather than jewel case), I was surprised and disappointed to discover that the very meagre booklet contained not a single note on the music itself, nor the composers, nor any of the artists except for Scholl, let alone offering texts or photographs. Rather, all we have here is a shortish biography of Scholl and thumb-nail images of a host of other Scholl discs.
Setting aside this shocking omission, however, the music is gorgeous. The first disc opens with three songs by the fourteenth-to-fifteenth-century Oswald von Wolkenstein, performed by Shield of Harmony directed by Crawford Young. Lovely music – but we really want to know about Wolkenstein, whom I imagine would not be a common name to many listeners; notes are desperately needed, especially on unfamiliar composers like this. It would also have been good to be able to read a little about the performing group, as well.
The Wolkenstein songs are followed by others by Dowland, Campion, Johnson, Mando, Bennet and Ferrabosco, alongside folksongs such as Waly Waly and King Henry. There is a good range of music here, from well-loved pieces like Dowland’s Can she excuse my wrongs and Now, O now I needs must part through to less familiar songs such as Mando’s Like as the Day, Ferrabosco’s Four-note Pavan, Johnson’s Have you seen the bright lily grow and Bennet’s Venus’ Birds whose mournful tunes (which also features some rather good whistling).
Scholl is accompanied in these by Andreas Martin and Julian Behr on lutes, and the Concerto di Viole. The performances are of a consistently high standard, with Scholl’s searingly beautiful voice strong and pure. He is perfectly controlled, and boasts both excellent communication of emotion and good enunciation. Only once was I slightly hesitant about a rendition – in Ferrabosco’s Four-note Pavan, in which I found Scholl’s usually reasonably unobtrusive vibrato a little too prominent.
The second disc, of baroque cantatas, opens with Handel’s Amarilli vezzosa for soprano, alto, two violins and bass continuo, with Hélène Guilmette the soprano, and the Accademia Bizantia directed by Ottavio Dantone; a suitably dramatic performance is given of this. Two Bach cantatas comprise the remainder of the disc: BVW 35 Geist und Seele wird verwirret, and 170 Vergnugte Ruh, bebliebte Seenlenlust. Philippe Herreweghe conducts the Orchestre du Collegium Vocale in crisp, clean performances; the much-loved Vergnugte Ruh, bebliebte Seenlenlust being particularly beautifully performed, with glorious senses of serenity and radiance.
Definitely a strong draw for the music, if you can get over the irritation of the lack of notes.
Contents CD 1 All ye, whom Love or Fortune hath betray'd [4.54] ANONYMOUS Waly, waly [3.09] King Henry [3.13] Thomas CAMPION (1567-1620] My sweetest Lesbia [3.51] I care not for these Ladies [2.3] My love hath vow'd [2.58] I saw my lady weep [4.04] Can she excuse my wrongs? [2.30] I will give my love an apple [1.46] Go crystal tears [6.29] Now, O now, I needs must part [4.32] Patrick MANDO (c.1600) Like as the day [4.03] Alfonso FERRABOSCO (1578-1628) Four-note pavan [4.49] ANONYMOUS Death, rock me asleep [2.57] Come, heavy sleep [5.02] Robert JOHNSON (1583-1633) Have you seen the bright lily grow? [2.51] John BENNET (fl.1599-1614) Venus' birds whose mournful tunes [3.35] Robert JOHNSON (1583-1633) Full fathom five [2.10]
CD 2 Georg Friedrich HAENDEL (1685-1759) Amarilli
vezzosa (Il duello amoroso) HWV 82 Sonata (Allegro - Menuetto) [2.44]
Recitativo Daliso Amarilli vezzosa [4.24] Aria Daliso Pietoso sguardo,
vezzo bugiardo Recitativo Amarilli Dunque tanto s'avanza [5.27] Aria
Amarilli Piacer che non si dona Recitativo Daliso & Amarilli Si, si,
crudel, ti accheta [3.02] Aria Amarilli Quel nocchiero che mira le
sponde Recitativo Daliso Amarilli, Amarilli [5.39] Aria Daliso E
vanita d'un cor Recitativo Amarilli & Daliso Or su, qiacche ostinato
[3.30] Aria a 2 con Ritornello Si, si, lasciami, inqrata - su, su,
restati in pace Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Geist
und Seele wird verwirret BWV 35 Concerto [5.39] Aria. Geist und Seele wird
verwirret [71.9] Recitativo. Ich wundre mich [1.19] Aria. Gott
hat alles wohlgemacht! [3.13] Sinfonia [3.27] Recitativo. Ach, starker
Gott, laB mich [1.00] Aria. lch wunsche nur bei Gott zu leben
[3.04] Vergnugte Ruh, beliebte Seelenlust BWV 170 Aria. Vergnugte Ruhl
beliebte Seelenlust! [6.43] Recitativo. Die Welt, das Sundenhaus [1.24]
Aria. Wie jammern mich doch die verkehrten Herzen [7.48] Recitativo. Wer
sollte sich demnach [1.10] Aria. Mir ekelt mehr zu leben [5.33]
Shield Of Harmony, Crawford Young (director), Andreas Martin and Julian
Behr (lutes), Concerto di Viole, Hélène Guilmette (soprano), Accademia
Bizantina, Ottavio Dantone (director), Marcel Ponseele (hautbois), Markus
Mark (organ), Orchestre du Collegium Vocale, Philippe Herreweghe (conductor)
rec. Seewen, February and April 1996; Lycée sainte Geneviève, Versailles,
July 1997; Studio Tibor Varga, Sion, August 2006; Fondation Tibor Varga,
Crimisuat, October 2007; St. Valentinuskirche, Kiendrich, June 2009