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For his Europamusicale program, the countertenor had a few real treats in store. It all started with some Handel, of which Nel dolce tempo deserves special mention since Scholl was very entertaining when alternatively singing the male and female character. Aside from his impeccable alto voice that remained untouched by a temporary frog in his throat, it was also delightful to watch Scholl argue with himself over matters of the heart as he portrayed two different characters. For the boy, he stood to the right of the stage, moving to the left and to the center for the female response. It was charming to see how the singer engaged his audience, not unlike a passionate politician who is arguing for his party's platform with considerable zeal.

After some more Handel came three Haydn songs: Recollection, then Despair, and then The Wanderer, all with text by Haydn's close friend Anne Hunter (1742-1821), the poet and lyricist who was the wife of the famous London surgeon John Hunter. The first two compositions date from 1794, one year after the death of Hunter's husband, and the final one, The Wanderer, was composed in 1795. Hunter's vivid writing makes her a perfect lyricist and although she is mainly known as Haydn's muse, she was also a respected poet in her own right. Her texts are often about the tragedy of the human existence, something that is demanding on the singer in terms of interpretation.

Andreas Scholl and Markus Märkel
Andreas Scholl and Markus Märkel

In an interview, Scholl once said that singing is not just about timbre, intonation and a fine falsetto, but also about grasping the essence of the words you are singing, trying to imagine how your character feels and then transmitting that emotion to your audience. When changing from the lighter Handel subjects to the deep tragedy of Haydn, immediately his mannerism changed and so did the mood of the audience. For Despair, when singing 'Think, death gives freedom to the slave, nor mourn for me when I'm at rest' he had put such tragedy into his voice as to make you suffer alongside him in what appeared to be highest agony.

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Copyright © 29 December 2004 Tess Crebbin, Germany


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