> Andreas SCHOLL Wayfaring Stranger - Folksongs 4684992 [KM]: Classical Reviews- January 2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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HOFFNUNG for CHRISTMAS? an ideal Christmas present for yourself or your friends.
Books posted the day the order is received

Andreas SCHOLL
Wayfaring Stranger - Folksongs

1.Wayfaring stranger
2.Down by the Salley gardens
3.My love is like a red red rose
4.Wild mountain thyme
5.Henry Martin
6.Charming beauty bright
7.I will give my love an apple
8.She moved through the fair
9.Blow the wind southerly
10.Wife of Usher's well
11.I loved a lass
12.Pretty Saro
13.Down in yon forest
14.Barbara Allen
15.Ragge taggle gypsies o
16.Annie Laurie
17.Black is the colour of my true love's hair
18.Lied vom Mississippi
19.Heil Dir Columbus

Andreas Scholl, countertenor
Edin Karamazov, lute
Jon Pickow, dulcimer, banjo
Stacey Shames, harp
Orpheus Chamber Orchestra
Rec: May 2001, Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center, Purchase College, Purchase, New York.
DECCA 468-499 2 [65.11]


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A countertenor is a male singer whose voice is in the alto range - very high, and very rich. Andreas Scholl is one of the most popular countertenors performing today, delighting baroque music fans with his diaphanous, angelic voice. In his many recordings and performances, he has shown himself to be one of the best successors to the great countertenors such as Alfred Deller and James Bowman.

Schollís popularity, though, has not gone beyond the baroque idiom, which is arguably a niche market. This new recording of English, Irish, Scottish and American folksongs is an attempt to make a crossover from the classical market into the more lucrative pop market, as the famous Three Tenors have done, and also, undoubtedly, to try and have a success similar to the Italian tenor Andrea Boccelli.

Scholl has already been derided by his core fans for this disc; it seems that real classical music fans find it difficult to accept this kind of crossover album. Mailing lists and newsgroups on baroque music have been full of negative remarks on this project. Is it worth his alienating his core fans in the hopes of hitting it big on the charts?

It must be admitted that Alfred Deller did similar recordings several decades ago, but the mediatization was different. He was attempting to present a specific repertoire interpreted by his then unique voice. The difference here is the clear desire to break out of the classical ghetto and tap the easy-listening market.

I must admit, I am a sucker for this kind of music, though. Being American, I was raised on folk songs, and the melancholy tone of many of these songs, such as Wild Mountain Thyme, brings back fond memories.

But the problem with this disc is that Schollís voice just does not fit the music. This is earthy music, written by pilgrims to a new land who struggled to survive. While Scholl has a magnificent voice, its effeminate qualities do not fit with the underlying tone of this music. In addition, all the songs sound the same. Even with a variety of arrangements, and such instruments as banjo, dulcimer and lute, there is still an underlying tone that sounds nothing at all like Appalachian folk songs, but more like Broadway show tunes.

Fortunately, Schollís voice is very pure, and he uses vibrato sparingly. He sings with great emotion and colour, and the purity of his voice is indeed a pleasure to listen to. But, this is not music written for lush string arrangements, nor was it written for the tone and style of this kind of voice. Yet, it will undoubtedly be very popular, if it manages to break through to the all-important FM radio playlists. Only the hard-core Scholl fans will want to buy this disc; if you like his singing in Vivaldi or Pergolesi, this is better left in the shop. But, if you are looking for a Christmas present for someone who doesnít like classical music, and you want to let them discover a truly magnificent voice, get them this. It is the kind of disc that almost anyone will like.

Kirk McElhearn

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