October 6, 2011
I have been hesitant to post clips on this blog of myself singing (this is for me an academic rather than PR outlet), but this often programmed piece, Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater, is a great example of what Bryan Desilva mentions in his recent article, The Vocal Soloist as Ensemble Singer. Notice how both Yulia Van Doren and I constantly modulate our vibratos to best serve the drama of the ensemble’s interpretation. Movement twelve, Quando Corpus from Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater featuring the Seattle Baroque Orchestra.
July 5, 2011
Bejun Mehta, previously featured in our “Watch this Now!” column, here delivers a crisp, joyful, and remarkably easy sounding performance of Sento la gioia from Handel’s Amadigi di Gaula. And some props go to the staff at Harmonia Mundi for editing together this fascinating collage of live and studio video footage.
June 1, 2011
This is a fascinating interview with Alfred Deller from French television in 1975. I have issues with some of his technical language (the use of the phrase ‘nasal resonance’ makes me shudder), but this is a great piece of our shared countertenor history!
May 12, 2011
He was despised, the often ten minute plus scena from Handel’s Messiah, is a particularly challenging aria for countertenors to deliver well. The tessitura (it was originally written for Ms. Cibber, a singer reported to have had a very broadway-esque limited range) sits low, and the text asks for a dramatic declamation and cutting tone. Listen to the way that American countertenor Bejun Mehta is able to sing on an efficiently produced partial length of vocal fold (his head voice) all the way down to A3 (the aria is in the dark key of Eb, but here is performed down a half-step at A4=415). This is a great illustration of my description of a countertenor’s lower alto range from my previous post on countertenor technique.
May 12, 2011
Longe mala by Antonio Vivaldi, sung by Australian countertenor David Hansen. While there are some minor balance issues in this recording (I blame the microphone placement, not the performers!), I love the way that Mr. Hansen OWNS the opening cadenza. Listen carefully to the way that he keeps his voice engaged while backing off on air pressure as the line ascends. This optimal approach allows the vibrating portion of his vocal folds to shorten between E5 and F#5, allowing for a beautiful and easy sounding A5! This is a great illustration of the description of how countertenors can navigate their upper range from my previous post on countertenor technique.
April 12, 2011
Well sung with an even tone and clear declamation, this “Music Video” of Kommt, ihr angefochtnen Sünder from BWV 30 Freue dich, erlöste Schar is, well… adorable. Of special note are J.S. Bach’s jedi-like powers @2:42. Enjoy.
March 1, 2011
Cum dederit dilectis, the slow movement from Vivaldi’s Nisi Dominus (RV 608), is a monstrous challenge of breath energy management for any singer. Spanish countertenor Carlos Mena handles it here with grace. Notice that his straight tone singing (always a color choice, not an imperative of his technique) never closes down his production, affects his intonation, saps energy from the phrase, or introduces extraneous tention.
Mr. Mena appears here with the Ricercar Consort under the direction of Philippe Pierlot.
February 1, 2011
Lest you think that Jaroussky defines the sound of the French countertenor, give a listen to Gérard Lesne sing Se scherzo e ride from the cantata Siedi, Amarilli mia by Giovanni Battista Bononcini (1670-1747). Notice how Lesne never closes down his vocal production throughout his ‘ha ha ha’ style coloratura. The vowel, the tone, the energy… nothing is disturbed, just momentarily interrupted.
January 1, 2011
There are no words to adequately describe Ewa Podles’ voice, or her completely quirky way of delivering on stage. However, this performance of Orlando’s aria Nel Profondo Cieco Mondo from Antonio Vivaldi’s (1678-1741) opera Orlando Furioso (1727) is a great example of 1) a full commitment to the integrity of the line regardless of the coloratura and 2) setting the tempo so that you sound good singing all the little black notes. Others might try to sing this faster, but this performances is completely within her control and absolutely exciting! She performs here with the Russian State Chamber Orchestra conduced by Konstantin Orbelian.
November 28, 2010
Countertenor Max Emanuel Cencic singing Ah che non posso from La Fida Ninfa by Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741)
Ok, so this is far from a high fidelity-video (the audio is thin and the balance isn’t perfect ~ blame the camcorder microphone), however all you young countertenors out there take note: Cencic is able to sing without tension at the quiet end of his dynamic range, and crescendo seamlessly with consistent vibrato and color. This stable approach serves him equally well on the highest pitches he sings here. He never pushes to make his voice work.
This is very stable and well setup singing, consistently vibrant and vitalized. Keep this in your ears as you are practicing; don’t give into the lure of ‘success’ by any means.