Back in April of 2005, I purchased my recording featuring the falsettist, Philippe Jaroussky. Since that I time, I now own quite a few more recordings by this young French countertenor. In retrospect, the music contained on this CD is rather light than the material he'd later record. Among my favorites is his Monteverdi album with Christina Pluhar.
Vivaldi: Arias, cantatas sung by Philippe Jaroussky. (p) 2005 by Virgin Classics/EMI, performing RV 670, 677, 728, 671, 47, 674, 778, 676. Over the years, I have found different people's abilities to listen, appreciate, and tolerate classical music has many times worked or failed depending on which genre of music was being considered: vocal or instrumental. I think more folks prefer instrumental music over vocal. With "classical" music, many times, the language used is not English, and the association people have with classical singing is with opera, which for many folks, is simply not something they enjoy, appreciate, or have the desire to know. This is a stereotype, yes, but one that rings true with a large segment of the population. I myself didn't care to listen to vocal music until I had already been seduced by sometime with instrumental numbers. This past year, with several purchases of the baroque literature, I noticed a singer whose name was unfamiliar, but whose voice was rich and inviting: Philippe Jaroussky. He recently put out a Vivaldi Virtuoso Cantatas CD with Ensemble Artaserse, and I find it very enjoyable. Some might be surprised, however, to find this affective singer is male. Jaroussky joins a growing number of male singers known as countertenors, who sing in a head voice typically in the alto range, but some, like Jaroussky, can extend further into soprano territory. The 68-minute CD includes a couple instrumental interludes, my very favorite cello sonata (RV 47), and an improvised prelude on theorbo. The continuo-group Ensemble Artaserse peforms on original instruments. For the cello work, they may be too closely miked, but their readings are interesting enough to stand up to any others you may run across. The music chosen for this CD is rich in affect, and for me at least, offers some new Vivaldi numbers to my collection. Jaroussky's voice is simply stunning in all ranges of style and pitch. He does for the voice what a baroque violin does for baroque violin music: it dispenses of all that messy vibrato and comes across clean, and clear. Jaroussky possesses for me in these works all the best attributes of other well-known countertenors: Scholl, Asawa, Blaze, etc. His voice is clear, his attention to detail palpable, and his voice is simply very easy to listen to. I of course have seen the eyebrows raise when folks unfamiliar with period performance hear countertenors... if you excuse your expectations, and listen to the artistry of what's before you, the result can be quite engaging. Several of the tracks on this recording have important parts for bass instrument: in some cases it's cello, in others, bassoon is used. In each case, the instrumentalists are on top form, my favorite the gutsy, fat bassoon sound from Jeremie Papasergio. Despite my feeling that some too-close miking might have been employed at parts, the balance between instruments, the stereo image, and the vocalist are prime in this new recording on Virgin Classics. Warmly recommended. This is a voice that's a fantastic listen. The fact that Vivaldi's music is delicious helps make this a true winner.