Great artists talk about their past record­ings This month: RENÉ JACOBS con­duc­tor/coun­tertenor

BBC Music Magazine - - Thefullscore - René Jacobs’s record­ing of Scar­latti’s Il primo Omi­cidio is on Har­mo­nia Mundi


Char­p­en­tier Leçons de Ténèbres du Ven­dredy Sainct

Ju­dith Nel­son (so­prano), René Jacobs (coun­tertenor), Con­certo Vo­cale Har­mo­nia Mundi HM901007 (1978)

In my first life as a singer, the Char­p­en­tier’s Leçons de Ténèbre was very im­por­tant be­cause it was my first record­ing for ★ar­mo­nia Mundi – and the first of a very long se­ries. It was also the first recorded col­lab­o­ra­tion with peo­ple like con­duc­tor Wil­liam Christie and so­prano Ju­dith Nel­son; those were

un­for­get­table mo­ments in my life. We recorded in the south of France, in Car­cas­sonne, and I dis­cov­ered great mu­sic. I re­gret a lit­tle bit that, as a con­duc­tor, I have done so lit­tle French Baroque mu­sic but that can still come. We had not sung the Leçons be­fore as far as I re­mem­ber, or per­formed them in con­cert – we did a er – and we were very much in­spired by this small church that ★ar­mo­nia Mundi hired to record in. It was a church with a good acous­tic but not too much echo – just ex­actly what you want. The first of the Leçons is some­thing like 20 min­utes for solo voice, and I think we used the first take; we had, of course, re­hearsed it be­fore, but it was so fresh. I can’t say, as some­one

who has con­ducted so much opera, that I have a great a nity with spir­i­tual mo­ments, but it re­ally was the case here.


JS Bach St Matthew Pas­sion

Werner Güra (Evan­ge­list), Jo­hannes Weisser (Chris­tus), Sun­hae Im, Christina Roter­berg (so­pra­nos), RIAS Kam­mer­chor; Academie für Alte Musik Ber­lin/jacobs Har­mo­nia Mundi HMC802156/58 (2013)

I have a love a air with the St Matthew Pas­sion. I sang it as a boy in the cathe­dral in Ghent and it was there my love for mu­sic and the dream to be­come a pro­fes­sional mu­si­cian was born. I think it was also the first time that I sang with a big or­ches­tra. The pos­si­bil­ity for me to record it came very late – I had been want­ing to record the Bach Pas­sions for ★ar­mo­nia Mundi for a long time, but they had al­ready re­leased record­ings. We recorded this very spe­cial ver­sion of the St Matthew as I, and some mu­si­col­o­gists, imag­ined it had been done in the Thomaskirche in Leipzig. The the­ory is that the two orches­tras, the two or­gans and the two cho­ruses were very far apart in the church; one cho­rus was in the front of the church and the other was in the back. In modern per­for­mances, the groups are equal, sym­met­ric; but the beau­ti­ful drama of the thing is that the smaller group is fur­ther away. So, we had a con­struc­tion in the stu­dio that al­lowed us to have the two groups far apart. I have great mem­o­ries of it, and we re­dis­cov­ered the St Matthew Pas­sion… I did, in any case.

I’D LIKE AN­OTHER GO AT… Mon­teverdi L’in­coro­n­azione

di Pop­pea

Danielle Borst (Pop­pea), Guillemette Lau­rens (Nerone), Axel Köh­ler (Ot­tone), Jen­nifer Lar­more (Ot­tavia) et al;

Con­certo Vo­cale/rené Jacobs

Har­mo­nia Mundi HML590133032 (2010)

I would be very happy to record Pop­pea again. Each time that I have the chance to per­form one of the three Mon­teverdi op­eras, espe­cially the two Vene­tian ones, I dis­cover so many more things. The Neopoli­tan ver­sion of Pop­pea is so long, but although I was not un­der pres­sure from ★ar­mo­nia Mundi to make it shorter, I put my­self un­der pres­sure; I thought that many of the scenes were re­dun­dant. Since then I un­der­stand so much more not only about the mu­sic of the time, but also the lit­er­a­ture and the po­etry, and now I can­not miss out any of the lines of the li­bretto. Of course, where it’s for a per­for­mance in the theatre you have to have a di­rec­tor, who also has some things to say; but for record­ing, I would be happy to do it again without any cuts. I’ve made so many record­ings in the stu­dio that I au­to­mat­i­cally think of record­ing there. But for Mon­teverdi, and for Pop­pea which is such a mas­ter­piece, I could imag­ine record­ing it a er a good pro­duc­tion. Maybe we would then take a day or so a er­wards to record some of the scenes that will have surely been cut for the scenic pro­duc­tion.

Cori spez­zati: René Jacobs con­ducts his choirs in Bach’s St Matthew Pas­sion

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