Impressive virtuosity and the joy of music-making
Add date: Tuesday, 18 April 2017
The finale of the 14th Misteria Paschalia Festival on Easter Monday was a spectacular show in which vocal and instrumental mastery met cheerful musicality and the sense of humour. The phenomenal Korean countertenor, David DQ Lee, was the star of that night at the ICE Krakow Congress Centre, full of impressive musical effects. He was accompanied by marvellous Ensemble Matheus, energetically conducted by Jean-Christophe Spinosi. Instrumental concerto soloists were: flutists Alexis Kossenko and Jean-Marc Goujon, and violinists Laurence Paugam and Spinosi himself. The programme Arie e concerti consisted of works by George Frideric Handel, Antonio Vivaldi and Georg Philipp Telemann. The programme gave us the insight into the diversity of the most exuberant Italian style of music and allowed to sense the atmosphere of the world of castrates who were true celebrities in 18th-century Europe.
After the French-style overture to the opera Xerxes by G. F. Handel, David DQ Lee presented his extraordinary vocal power in the recitative and arioso Ombra mai fu, in which the lead character, King Xerxes, pays tribute to his favourite plane tree. After Handel’s introduction, time came for the lyrical arioso with the accompaniment of the concerting flute part: Sol da te, mio dolce amore from Vivaldi’s opera Orlando furioso based on Ariosto’s poem Orlando furioso. Telemann’s Concerto in E minor for flute and recorder, was an instrumental interlude in which Alexis Kossenko(recorder) and Goujon (flute) led a marvellous dialogue with each other and with the entire orchestra. The fourth part of the composition was particularly impressive – energetic Presto, a combination of the Polish court style with a folk accent, imitating the bourdon sound of the Polish bagpipe and the French musette. At the end of that part, musicians of Ensemble Matheus additionally accentuated the rhythm stamping their feet, and in this way enhancing the pastoral style of the work. At the end of the first part we could hear the elaborate, affected accompagnato Ah! stigie larve from Handel’s Orlando, in which the unfortunate knight goes mad, sick with jealousy. David DQ Lee rendered the scene with great artistry, both vocally and through his great acting.
The second part opened with a bravado aria from the same work – Fammi combattere mostri e tifei, filled with coloratura effects. Vivaldi’s scene of madness of the lead character of the opera Orlando furioso, based on the same texts by Ariosto, but differently imaged, was an interesting material for comparison. We could also hear the aria opening the same opera by Vivaldi, Nel profondo cieco mondo, with characteristic slides down to lower registers and stormy coloratura, enhanced by a violent string figuration. That cadence was a good opportunity for the Korean star to go down to the natural chest register, playing with the convention, and at the same time showing his extensive vocal compass. In the lyrical aria with the accompaniment of string pizzicato Sento in seno ch’in pioggia di lagrime from the opera Tieteberga, the singer presented beautiful, sophisticated cantilena. The concert ended with the graceful Concerto in D major for two violins RV 512 by the Red Priest, in which solo parts were played with bravado and verve by Laurence Paugam and Jean-Christophe Spinosi who also conducted the ensemble. After such an emotional night, full of surprising twists, the artists received a long and stormy ovation. However, the encore surpassed the audience’s expectations.
At the end a special surprise was offered: a contemporary three-part composition, Mai Nozipo (My Mother); as Spinosi remarked, it showed some baroque inspirations, and was composed by a Zimbabwe-born contemporary composer and mbira virtuoso - Dumisani Maraire, who is no longer alive. That surprising mix of ethnic music with baroque instruments brought an amazing effect, reminding us of the joy of Easter. To the sounds of African music, the artists went down to the audience, and left the Congress Centre Hall in a dancing procession. No other Festival finale has ever been so spectacular!
fot. Bogdan Krężel, www.bogdankrezel.com