Review: Andreas Scholl, at Birmingham Town Hall

I confess to finding the counter-tenor voice highly resistible – in opera I always prefer a mezzo-soprano to a falsettist.

But it would be perverse not to be charmed by Andreas Scholl’s voice which was smooth, mellifluous and honeyed in this Bach concert.

There’s no trace of the hernia-inducing strangled tone some counter-tenors produced around thirty years ago – and I don’t just mean the Bee Gees.

In the cantata Gott soll allein mein herze haben (God alone shall have my heart) Scholl’s control of line and sensitivity to the text were excellent.

He sang with an almost unearthly beauty, as if he’d already joined the choir of angels. Yet it may be that ethereal quality which robbed his performance of the cantata Ich habe genug (I have enough) of its requisite passion.

I heard none of the world weary near-desperation that singers as different as Thomas Quasthoff and the late Lorraine Hunt Lieberson found there.

Scholl was well supported by the Kammerorchesterbasel, led by Julia Schröder.

They also played the Sinfonia from Cantata BWV156, which forms the Largo movement of the F minor concerto for harpsichord and strings, and the complete work was later played admirably with soloist Giorgio Paronuzzi.