Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Recent Concerts

Andreas Scholl.  On Friday evening, Andreas Scholl gave a recital at the Harvard Musical Association, with his wife accompanying him on the piano. The program was the same as one he gave in New York on December 8 at Alice Tully Hall. One of the pieces he performed was Schubert's "Death and the Maiden." Here is a recording he made a few months ago. (Spoiler — I recommend listening before reading further.) What makes this especially interesting is that he uses his baritone voice for the second stanza, Death's reply to the maiden. It was very effective, not only because the different range is appropriate, but also because hearing his lower voice was so unexpected.

Here's a review of the New York performance. Here's another (with the reviewer unaware that Mr. Scholl was to give a private recital in Boston six days later). I'm not sure of the capacity of Alice Tully Hall, but the Marsh Room at the HMA holds about 100 people, so I'm sure ours was more intimate. And afterwards, we were able to gather downstairs for chocolates, macaroons, and sparkling rosé wine and chat with the artists (I myself didn't, because I couldn't think of anything to say, but other people did).

I liked the recital, but I think the Times reviewer may be right that Scholl's voice is more suited to baroque, or maybe it's just that I like countertenors better opera, because, good as he was, I couldn't get fully engaged. Here are some recordings of him in opera

and in solo recital (including some pieces he sang for us)

You can decide what you like, if anything. (BTW, you can get the idea on most of these without listening all the way through.)

Bach Christmas Oratorio.  Sunday afternoon I went to the Handel and Haydn Society's presentation of Parts 1, 2, and 6 of the Christmas Oratorio. Their earlier performance got a mixed review in the Boston Globe. I hadn't read the review before I went on Sunday, and I didn't find anything really wrong with the performance — maybe a couple of points where it wasn't quite as vigorous as I would have liked, but overall I was quite satisfied.

Here's a link to the whole oratorio, performed by vocal soloists, the Monteverdi Choir, and English Baroque Soloists conducted by Sir John Eliot Gardiner in Weimar in 1999. I don't recommend listening to the whole thing all at once. You can do something similar to how it was originally heard if you listen to the first part on Christmas Day, second on December 26, third on the 27th, fourth on New Year's Day, fifth on January 2, and sixth on January 6. Or you can approximate my experience by listening to the first and second parts, taking a twenty minute intermission, and then listening to part 6. You can find other performances on videos: the whole oratorio, individual cantatas, and specific numbers. My favorite is this one from the first part, here sung by Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau. (BTW, the Gardiner version, with Dietrich Henschel takes 4:20, while Kurt Thomas and Fischer-Dieskau take 5:10. I somewhat prefer Henschel/Gardiner, largely because I don't care for Fischer-Dieskau's near staccato on multi-note syllables.)

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