Not too long ago, I had the nice fortune to attend two chamber live performance/recitals that featured the human voice accompanied by devices apart from the same old piano. Each recitals featured unfamiliar repertoire and virtuoso performances.
The primary was a uncommon New York look by the French countertenor Philippe Jaroussky at Zankel Corridor on October 14. Jaroussky was accompanied by the baroque ensemble L’Arpeggiata led by theorbo participant Christina Pluhar in a program of French vocal and instrumental music from the primary half of the seventeenth century. Particularly, these songs and instrumental items got here from the court docket of Louis XIII (1601-1643) and his brother (and lethal rival) Duc Gaston d’Orléans.
Each have been patrons of the humanities, musicians themselves and maintained their very own court docket orchestras and chamber singers who have been additionally composers. Louis XIII (topic of homosexual rumors) and his consort Anne of Austria are characters in Dumas’ The Three Musketeers and the Duc’s music would have been heard by the Cardinal Richelieu and D’Artagnan at court docket.
Pierre Gue?dron and Antoine Boësset have been court docket musicians within the court docket of King Louis XIII whereas Etienne Moulinié and his brother Antoine together with Michel Lambert have been within the service of the Duc d’Orléans. Music from all these gents have been heard in this system together with songs from Henry Le Bailly and Gabriel Bataille.
Not one of the music performed was operatic – the closest was an encore arioso “Sì dolce è’l tormento” by Claudio Monteverdi in his acquainted operatic model. Monteverdi and Marc-Antoine Charpentier have been the one acquainted and operatic composers on this system.
The dominant format of those songs was the strophic ballad, however the languages, model, material and tempos diverse extensively. There have been many up-tempo songs with jaunty folk-like accompaniments in addition to plaintive laments. Moulinié and Le Bailly offered songs in Spanish in faux-Iberian model.
The versatile Moulinié additionally composed Italian odes equivalent to “Non speri pietà”. Guédron contributed a bawdy ballad “Dessus la rive de la mer y a trois filles” a couple of boatman who takes his fare in commerce from three lovely girls. There was even a mad scene “Yo soy la locura” (Passacalle de la Folie) from Le Bailly. Different songs have been courtly odes to a lifetime of ease and pleasure (“Nos esprits libres et contents”) or pastoral odes to Cloris, and many others. (“Aux plaisirs, aux délices bergères”).
The members of L’Arpeggiata embody Pluhar on theorbo, Doron David Sherwin on cornetto, Kinga Ujszászi on baroque violin, Maximilian Ehrhardt on baroque harp and David Mayoral on percussion. There have been a number of instrumental interludes for solo devices and ensemble by Maurizio Cazzati, Giovanni Girolamo Kapsberger, Giovanni Antonio and Pandolfi Mealli.
I used to be continually reminded of twentieth century Latin American jazz. The cornetto is an extended, curved reed instrument like a flute or recorder – but the sound it makes is low and mellow like a clarinet or saxophone. Mr. Sherwin jammed just like the late Gato Barbieri offering quick licks or soulful obbligato. Mme. Pluhar’s theorbo weaved delicate steady tonal threads binding all of the musical strands collectively offering grounding and connection.
Ms. Ujszászi on violin had daring assault and unflagging musical power, virtuosic in her solos. However the percussive high quality of the devices, the best way the ensemble would spontaneously be a part of Mr. Jaroussky in quicker sections, the presence of bongo-like drums, using melismas which resembled scatting, the short in your ft improvisation and byplay between the vocalist and the musicians – all appeared like jazz to me. Particularly, the music recalled the Brazilian jazz of Antonio Carlos Jobim and Milton Nascimento.
Jaroussky talked about introducing his encores that he has not appeared in New York in 12 years. In New York Metropolis we might delight ourselves on being a cosmopolitan hub presenting all the nice artists of the world, however that’s not likely true. Baroque music lacks a distinguished and secure resident ensemble in Manhattan in contrast to Boston.
Additionally, there’s a entire era of countertenors in Europe who’re by no means heard on this metropolis, amongst them Franco Fagioli, Max Emanuel Cen?i?, Xavier Sabata, Valer Barna Sabadus, David Hansen and Raffaele Pé. They’ve dozens of recordings individually and collectively equivalent to in Vinci’s Artaserse which additionally options Jaroussky. Most of those males at the moment are of their forties, like Jaroussky, however nonetheless in prime type.
The one countertenors recurrently heard regionally in opera are Anthony Roth Costanzo and Iestyn Davies. The model-handsome breakdancing sensation Jakub Józef Orli?ski is nipping at their heels, however I discover him slightly weedy in tone and he was inaudible on the Met in Aucoin’s Eurydice.
Jaroussky proved himself to be very a lot an artist nonetheless in his vocal prime with a tone that’s each rounded and ringing with a candy ingratiating timbre and tonal bloom. This isn’t a straight piercing tone however one with a fragile vibrato which Jaroussky may subtract or add in for expression and musical impact. It additionally helps that the Monsieur nonetheless cuts a good-looking determine harking back to the 80’s heartthrob Christopher Lambert of Greystoke, Subway and Highlander fame.
He’s additionally snug along with his physique with a free and expressive use of his fingers. Mr. Jaroussky was not afraid to do some appearing donning silver sun shades in a shock encore duet with Mr. Sherwin (turned vocalist and duet companion) within the conventional “Ciaccona del paradiso e del inferno” debating the deserves and discomforts of heaven and hell with M. Jaroussky representing the soul in bliss disdaining the damned soul of Mr. Sherwin.
This 80-minute live performance offered a window into an obscure interval of musical historical past that’s unfamiliar and beforehand ignored. It additionally confirmed us the musical kinds and kinds that later knowledgeable the operatic works of Monteverdi, Lully, Charpentier and Cavalli. The headliner is a global star and acquainted recording artist seldom seen on our shores. It was additionally a sold-out night, so clearly there may be an viewers for this form of factor in New York Metropolis.
Presenters, take notice.
Picture: Richard Termine