Andreas Scholl - Arias for Senesino
Accademia Bizantina, Andreas Scholl & Ottavio Dantone
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This album carries a selection of some of the most beautiful vocal Baroque music I've ever heard. If you don't like Baroque, you won't like it. If you like Baroque, you'll certainly like this. It is, in addition, a huge pleasure to hear a singer in this range. While high for a male, it's certainly a lower register than what's popular today, and that makes it a pleasure to the ears as well. I recommend, in particular, "Dove Sei, Amato Bene?" It is sung by many, often by female singers, and those versions are beautiful, but to hear it as it was meant to be heard, with the tempo and orchestral arrangements and flourishes that are appropriate to the time, adds so much more to the music. In fact, I'd love to see his performance of Rodelinda. For lovers of Baroque, you can't go wrong with this. The passion with attention to detail, the clarity, the warmth -- all are what I love about Baroque music, and you'll find it here.
I love Scholl's voice, I think he is peerles in Bach, and he has recently delivered great performances on stage in Handel's operas, but after listening to this collection several times, I feel it simply lacks the punch. The unearthly, angelic beauty of Scholl's voice, coupled with impeccable technique makes for intensely lovely listening experience, yet in many places it is just perfectly beautiful and perfectly boring. Several times I actually caught myself bypassing Scholl's voice and tuning my ears to the splendid playing of Accademia Bizantina orchestra instead. Few arias, notably the ones not written by Handel, show some dramatic colors, beautiful old chestnuts like Dove Sei are finally here, but the one I was hoping would be ideal for Scholl, the great Cara Sposa, sounds underpowered. It's smooth and beautiful but then it would be hard to find a piece of music that would not sound beautiful when sung by Scholl. In terms of expressing anything other than the placid loveliness, in has some ways to go. As a start for Scholl's adventures on Senesino trail, this album also comes short. The selection of arias is a mixed bag, stylistically uneven and not very inspired. Few are recorded for the first time, points for that, but in these days, many artists like Cecilia Bartoli go directly to manuscripts and then perform these forgotten gems with more conviction and fire. Also, Scholl's ornamentations are so elegant and understated that they hardly register. For anyone who is a fan of Scholl's voice, this album will showcase it very nicely, but that's about it.
Scholl Does It Again
Baroque music is beautiful, the countertenor literature in particular. Operating upon this premise, and the fact that these works are sung by Andreas Scholl, one can safely conclude that this album is a thoroughly worthwhile investment. I have.