Mathias Vidal haute-contre, Ensemble Marguerite Louise, Gaétan Jarry
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I love the principle and the content of this recital, especially the inclusion of overtures, dances and ensembles so that we don’t choke on a surfeit of airs. It is a brave singer who undertakes a programme of haute-contre singing in any case, and Matthias Vidal was entitled to any breaks in the recording schedule which the programming allowed him. He certainly has the ranges – vocal and emotional – for these roles but I have to say that I enjoy the singing most when he is not at absolutely full throttle. At this point I find the vibrato just too intrusive alongside the period orchestral sounds, though this doesn’t happen very often. Similarly, the lesser soloists and the choir sound, to me at least, at their best when singing within themselves.
The main booklet (French, English and German) note is in interview style, which will irritate some, though there are some interesting comments from MV on the nature of haute-contre singing. As is, I’m afraid, more common than it should be in Versailles issues, there are some unidiomatic turns of phrase in the English translations of the biographies especially. Nice to see that our hero enjoys Offenbach, though!