participants in the Britten-Pears Young Artist programme, the learning
curve is steep, but the rewards of working with an artist of the
stature of countertenor Andreas Scholl are manifest. In this pair of Snape Proms
concerts, which were the culmination of a 10-day masterclass course
directed by Scholl, it may have been the singers who benefited most in
practical terms - but, for the instrumentalists, accompanying Scholl
himself in works by Handel and Vivaldi was evidently inspirational.
conducting debut in the first of these concerts
was not perhaps anything to ricochet around the music world, with
Bach's Cantata No 105 emerging in a slightly leaden fashion, and the
penitential mood becoming a little overbearing. By contrast, the
Cantata No 182, Himmelskonig, Sei Willkommen, had a uplifting joy: its
contrapuntal writing was clearly defined and the chorus shaped Bach's
phrases with Scholl's trademark finesse. Of the promising voices
stepping forward to deliver their solos, the warm mezzo of Canadian
Jennifer Enns Modolo was the most impressive.
breathtaking beauty, Scholl's sound is in a
league of its own. Even after inflicting 10 days' talking on the vocal
chords, its instrumental clarity and purity seemed hardly impaired. In
Handel's scena Mi Palpita il Cor,
the sequential passages were
impeccably articulated, the graduation of tone-colours constantly
illuminating. And the siciliano of Ho
Tanti Affanni in Petto, with Per
Gross's recorder obbligato, achieved an exquisite melancholy.
solos, Scholl relinquished the burden of directing
to Christian Rieger - the fine executant of two Bach harpsichord
concertos on successive evenings - and guest leader Adrian Chandler.
Nevertheless, his freely expressive body language communicated
eloquently to the Britten-Pears Baroque Orchestra, and the drama of
Vivaldi's cantata Cessate, Omai
Cessate was vividly realised.