Sunday, October 30, 2011

Angelic Voice - Philippe Jaroussky at Hertz Hall, UC Berkeley

Philippe Jaroussky,
2011 Misteria Paschalia Festival,
Kraków Philharmonic
French countertenor Philippe Jaroussky joined Apollo's Fire, a Baroque orchestra founded in 1992 and based in Cleveland, for a concert of music by Handel and Vivaldi this afternoon as a Cal Performances presentation at Hertz Hall, University of California, Berkeley, in a journey through the gamut of human emotions, as experienced through the roles created for the great castrato singers of the 18th century.

The program included: Handel: Chaconne from Terpsichore (Il pastor fido) • Arias from Oreste, Imeneo, Il Parnasso in Festa and Ariodante • Handel/arr. Sorrell: Prelude in A major for Solo Harpsichord • Vivaldi: Violin Concerto in E-flat major, Op. 8, No. 5, "Tempesta di Mare" • Arias from Catone in Utica, Giustino and Tito Manlio • Vivaldi/arr. Sorrell: Concerto Grosso "La Follia" ("Madness") • Allegro from Concerto Grosso in D major.

Cal Performances is often praised for presenting local debut performances by top talents from all over the world, especially the recital series of classical music, such as mezzo-soprano Cecilia Bartoli, and tenor Jonas Kaufmann. Last year, I attend the more heroic voiced Kaufmann recital at the larger Zellerbach Hall, the more ethereal voiced Jaroussky graced us at the more intimate Hertz Hall. 

Jaroussky had been singing in the Baroque repertoire for a long time and has long been praised highly for his angelic voice and his keen musicality.  His performance in Hertz Hall confirmed such reputation and I state again that I had never heard a sweeter voice before.

More crucially, unlike the reputation associated with the voice type of countertenor, Jaroussky had good amount of coloration at his disposal therefore his sing was never monotonous or glassy.  His agile voice was very impressive in the Handel and Vivaldi's pyrotechnics but he was also able to invest the music with true emotions, firm and focused tone, and wonderful flexibilities.  He was also able to connect with audience in an immediate way and any doubts due to the unfamiliarity with Baroque era dissipated as soon as he let his voice ripple through the hall.

All of his offerings - seven announced arias and three encores (The three encores were an aria by Porpora, "Venti, turbini" from Händel's Rinaldo, and "Ombra mai fu" from Händel's Serse) were of highest quality but I enjoyed the most was the slow and soulful music such as the Handel recitative and aria Ho perso il caro ben for Orfeo from Il Parnasso in Festa, mourning the death of his beloved Euridice and the romance encore.  He simply convinced me that Orfeo should sound just like him, nuance after nuance.

He was full of grace, not only in his bearings but in his willingness to share the stage.  The Apollo's Fire treated the delighted audience several music in various emotions and was greeted just as enthusiastically. 

Philippe Jaroussky at Hertz Hall, 30 October 2011 _ 0615

Pity that San Francisco Opera never saw fit to engage starts like Bartoli, Kaufmann and Jaroussky.  Would it be nice to have a Vivaldi opera staged for the talents like Jaroussky and Bartol?

Philippe Jaroussky - Opium (Mélodies Francaises) - EMI Classics

Philippe Jaroussky - Carestini: Story of a Castrato - EMI Classics

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