Saturday, 28 January 2012

Phillippe Jaroussky

I’ve just been seduced by Philippe Jaroussky and I’m not alone.  Just listen to this!

Philippe is naturally a baritone, and his speaking voice has that pitch, but he sings as a counter tenor.  The counter tenor voice is obtained by singing in the falsetto range and, whilst many men can do this, there are very few who are able to do so with great artistry and produce a beautiful sound. 
The repertoire for these specialist performers comes mostly from the baroque period and was written for castrati.  Italian composers like Monteverdi, Vivaldi and others, such as Purcell and Handel, wrote extensively for the high pitched male voice.
Until very recently I’ve not been a great fan of this period, because I thought that I didn’t like the long highly decorated melismatic passages that were the fashion, but listen to Philippe performing this aria, which is very fast, with lots of melismas, but so well done even all the other musicians can’t help smiling!

Andreas Scholl , probably the world’s best known counter tenor, was interviewed with Philippe Jaroussky in the Guardian when they were rehearsing for a joint concert in London’s Barbican just over a year ago.  

Andreas said: "There's always this fascination about the counter tenor voice.  But I've never really understood what that is, because I'm doing it every day – it's my voice.  Yet when we sing, people cry and we get love letters.  You get used to that." He turns to Jaroussky.  "But I experienced, for the first time, what other people feel when I heard your recording Opium.  I got goosebumps.  For the first time in my life – I'm serious, Philippe – I thought, 'A-ha! This is why people are so fascinated by our voices.'"

I know exactly what he means, because I had the same response when listening, with other members of our quartet, to “Sì dolce è 'l tormento”.   When the track had finished I turned to Quince, who sings Alto, and said “I think I’ve just been seduced by Philippe Jaroussky!”   And she said “So have I!”

I’ve sung this Purcell duet with Netty, who sings soprano, but we are nowhere near achieving the perfection of this version by Andreas and Philippe.  In fact they have given me a model interpretation to work towards.  

Quince and I are rehearsing “Et Misericordia”  from the Magnificat by JS Bach but I’m quite sure that our interpretation will be completely different from this one. Don't get confused Jaroussky is singing the upper line!

But for a final frisson or two, try this Vivaldi aria "Vedro con mio diletto"

Some more links

Piangero (Vivaldi)

A very good article about Philippe has been published in French News Online
Here is Phillippe Jaroussky’s official website


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