mon 10/08/2020

Scholl, Jaroussky, Ensemble Artaserse, Barbican | reviews, news & interviews

Scholl, Jaroussky, Ensemble Artaserse, Barbican

Scholl, Jaroussky, Ensemble Artaserse, Barbican

Two countertenors turn rivalry into musical romance

Andreas Scholl: An artist solely of the recording studio?

The egos and rivalries of the great castrati – of Senesino, Carestini, Farinelli – are legendary. Too few arias, too unheroic a role, or just too little virtuosity (Handel’s beautiful “Verdi prati” was almost lost to us when Senesino rejected its simplicity) were all cause enough for a tantrum. How times have changed. Collaborating for their new Purcell project, superstar countertenors Andreas Scholl and Philippe Jaroussky are trading jealousy for duets, and proving that you really can never have too much of a good thing.

The music’s solo lines undulate and coil amongst one another in quite the most overtly sexual encounter of Baroque music

Share this article


I was fortunate enough to be sitting only a little more than 10 foot away from Scholl and Jaroussky last night. Wonderful performances by both. There is no doubt in my mind that Scholl did in fact have 'vocal issues' - which were being well disguised. He was having to clear his throat at the end of most phrases. As you say, the performances taken as a whole were superb. But on balance, Scholl's mastery shone through for me.

I was there too. They were superb. Scholl's weaker tone more than compensated for by his immense musicality and emotional maturity. I did wonder if he was a bit ill -- the regular coughs. It felt like he had to hold back a bit on power in order to preserve the clear tone and expressiveness. He is still the greatest; Jaroussky was as impressive as I have ever heard him, but has not yet Scholl's passion. QUESTION: What was Scholl's first encore?? It was stunningly wonderful.

Scholl's encore from King Arthur: COLD GENIUS What power art thou, who from below Hast made me rise unwillingly and slow From beds of everlasting snow? See'st thou not how stiff and wondrous old, Far unfit to bear the bitter cold, I can scarcely move or draw my breath? Let me, let me freeze again to death. Follow the link for full lyrics:

Giusto ciel, would I have fantasies about those two as an item...the perfect couple, I'd have thought.

We were there. It was a fabulous concert. It got better and better as it went along. I thought Scholl was a little weaker when they kicked off, but he grew into the evening, and the finale (the encore, or encores) was fantastic. Scholl's encore of the King Arthur, with fantastic edgy string playing likeable to Vivaldi's "Winter" decades later, was superb, and the rapour the two singers had with each other and (in the second half and encore) with the audience were excellent. I was ready to fall asleep to languid Purcell lamentations in the first half, but instead I was blown away by their musicality and lyrical ability. The encore is worth a cd in its own right. They were awesome.

Add comment


Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters