Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Counter tenor has an easy night


Reviewer rating:

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Andreas Scholl Sings Vivaldi
Australian Chamber Orchestra
Melbourne Recital Centre
October 7

Appearing for the first time with the Australian Chamber Orchestra - rather, a small part of it - counter tenor Andreas Scholl had a fairly easy time at Monday night's recital, singing three pieces by Estonian mystic-minimalist Arvo Part and the restrained Stabat mater of Vivaldi where the vocal line features few flights of Baroque fancy, climaxing in a final Amen that treats the voice as a part of the fabric rather than riding above the ruck.

The night began with another Vivaldi, the C major Concerto grosso, which set the night's colour palette: string quartet with added double bass, Tommie Andersson's theorbo and Neal Peres Da Costa's chamber organ providing a powerful continuo support. This enjoyed a trademark ACO reading, distinguished by finely matched duo passages from violinists Helena Rathbone and Rebecca Chan.

After a brief Part string meditation, the players moved into Schnittke's String Quartet No. 3, music of undoubted motivic focus but absolutely uninteresting for its own sake, although this reading made much of its molehills.


In similar fashion, Scholl invested his talent on rather ordinary material in Part's three-note Wallfahrtslied, the folksong-suggestive Es sang vor langen Jahren and a bland Vater unser setting; all three were articulated with care and empathy but the music demands very little of any audience. These samples of lyrical stasis sat oddly alongside the first four Contrapuncti from Bach's Art of Fugue, supremely finished creations of engrossing complexity reinforced by the bass line of Maxime Bibeau and cellist Timo-Veikko Valve.

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