If you enjoyed our nutty pianists a few Lazy Sundays ago, you’re sure to appreciate Mahlerman’s further exploration of musical lunacy. Here are his Mad Voices…
With the seemingly inexorable rise in the popularity of baroque-era music over the last 30 years, has come a raft of counter-tenor voices capable of expressing this music. Across the channel the Jedward lookalike Philippe Jaroussky is regularly mobbed; in America the rather doleful David Daniels rules. Here, the great German Andreas Scholl is rightly considered the voice sans pareil, and he demonstrates his craft well in this sublime aria from Giulio Cesare, the 1724 opera by G F Handel.
It would be no exaggeration to say that without Alfred Deller’s pioneering work after the war, none of the counter-tenor voices heard today would have had the repertoire upon which to base their artistry. Discovered by the composer Michael Tippett singing in the Canterbury choir, he went on to form his own consort and, in effect, kick-started the early music movement. Here, his modest, self-effacing delivery is packed into less than two minutes of magic.
Take a line from Tiny Tim through the late Blossom Dearie, add some pungent English mustard, a touch of New York sass, and a voice as big as a house, and you get the quirky Nellie McKay, London born but raised in New York. The feminist song is her own, which she follows with the wonderful Irving King standard. She might get big, but I hope not. I hope she stays just the way she is.
Around the same time as Handel was writing Giulio Cesare above, Rameau was working on his opera bouffe Platee in Paris. From the second act, this amazing piece of froth is the show-stopper from La Folie. Made famous in the Paris Opera production, Mireille Delunsch inhabits the role here, in concert.