Embracing New Repertoire with Affection and Assuredness

United StatesUnited States Schubert, Haydn, Brahms, Mozart: Andreas Scholl (countertenor), Tamar Halperin (piano), Corbett Auditorium, Cincinnati, Ohio. 10.1.2014 (RDA)

Schubert: Songs; Waltz in B minor D145, Op. 18, No. 6
Haydn: Canzonettas
Brahms: Deutsche Volkslieder; Intermezzo in A major, Op. 118, No. 2
Mozart: Lieder; Rondo in F major K494

Since his musical beginnings in his native Germany at the age of seven, and his eventual debut at the age of 21, Andreas Scholl has risen to prominence as one of the finest countertenors of today. His voice is that of a male alto, ideal for the Handel and Bach operas and oratorios that make up the bulk of his repertoire. Wanderer, a recent CD release that features Scholl and his wife, Tamar Halperin on piano, features a variety of German lieder, and in this Cincinnati recital at Corbett Auditorium, Scholl made it clear that he has embraced this new repertoire with affection and assuredness.

Anchoring the evening was the accomplished, powerhouse Halperin, a pianist able to think, feel and breathe with her husband and musical partner. In between Schubert’s elegant Waltz in B minor, Brahms’s beloved Intermezzo in A major, and Mozart’s lively Rondo in F major, she interspersed three selections of her own. At all times her playing was idiomatic, with solid technique and mature musicality.

Scholl’s countertenor voice is substantial and surprisingly but rarely coupled to a fine baritone, which here he put to good use in Schubert’s “Der Tod und das Maedchen.” His usual range is much higher, of course, and he resides in the alto tessitura with not a hint of manufacturing of sound, but with a vocal emission that is pure, duskier than brighter, and always “on the breath.” Scholl’s long-phrased legato singing is seamless and his diction always clear.

The signature song “Du bist die Ruh” that capped the Schubert grouping and Mozart’s “Abendempfindung” that closed the program were given readings that seemed to magically suspend time. The Brahms Deutsche Volkslieder showed Scholl’s direct, uncomplicated way with dramatic narratives.

Rafael de Acha

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