BWW Reviews: Andreas Scholl at the Ware Center, Lancaster
On Wednesday, December 5, Central Pennsylvania's sorely-lacking classical vocal music scene was improved by an immense magnitude with the arrival of German countertenor Andreas Scholl at the Ware Center, Lancaster. Appearing with his accompanist (and also his wife), Tel Aviv classical pianist Tamar Halperin, through the auspices of Gretna Music, Scholl held the audience spellbound with a song-cycle collection of English early music and German lieder.
Scholl's regular non-operatic repertoire has long included a wide selection of English early music, particularly Purcell (as may be recalled from his Purcell CD, "O Solitude") – indeed, among current countertenors, he is one of the finest, as well as the most knowledgeable, of the early music singers. The first half of the recital, similar to his performance at Wigmore Hall, London, in November, was a collection of early music, including Purcell, Campion, Johnson and Dowland, with the charming addition of some 18th century vocal works, Haydn's settings of three of London poet Anne Hunter's works. The audience was particularly amused by Scholl's presentation of Campion's "I care not for these ladies," an especially humorous piece; Scholl's dramatic presentation in recitals, which cannot be seen by those who listen only to his CDs, is always excellent, and his vocal humor was equally present. (Additional vocal "assistance" from Halperin also had the audience laughing in their seats.)
Halperin is a fine concert pianist as well as an accompanist, and her work on Haydn's "Despair" is worth noting. Hunter's texts were composed around her grief at the death of her husband, a noted London surgeon; Haydn's piano line for "Despair" is as heavy as the subject and lyrics, but the musical line between verses is comparatively, and surprisingly, light; Halperin handled the transition between the two deftly. In Halperin's hands, as well, the piano line accompanying Scholl in the Purcell pieces achieved that rarest of things, a unity between itself and the vocal line so complete that singer and piano seemed to be one complex instrument.