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Volume 7 Issue 5 - February 2002

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COVER STORY James Bowman

COVER STORY James Bowman and Daniel T aylpr: Countertenor extravaganza know if he realizes how important Bowman and Taylor have planned he continues to be for countertenors their March 2 program around Britacross the world." ain's greatest composer, Henry Bowman has led the way for Purcell. Bowman sees a direct link counterten?rs to be ~ essen!ial part between the renewed appreciation of of the musical scene m concert and Purcell and the use of authentic in­ ?.n the opera stage, says Tayl?r: . struments. "Purcell has only re- James always ~as ~a~ someth~g ceived his due in the last fifteen to say wh_en he_ s ~mg_mg. That s years, ever since people started playwhat I believe smgmg_ is abo_ut. It ing proper baroque instruments. Begoes beyond the music, w~ich ~~ fore that no-one quite understood course he always does beautifully. how to perform him. His harmonies The finest countertenor voices like and his curious speeds are rather Taylor and Bowman display breath- odd." , taking agility, ravishing purity and Bowman has probably reheightened expressivity. Their tech- corded more Purcell than any other David Tamblyn 14 Fifth Sf,.e.e.t LOl'Ot\to .:Tslat\d Ot\tal'io Cat\ada M532B9 Te.lo 416-203-0789 exq .. isite. Bows . Hat\dmade. i" the F.l'e.t\ch Tl'aditiot\ by Pqmela Marg/es On March 2, at Trinity-St. Paul's nique can lend an •:mrllilm~l:ll:ll::U:l:!ll:DC31 singer. " I love his . The text is by the great poet and playm us i c - ,he's a ·wright John Dryden, who had writ­ Centre in Toronto, renowned Brit- ethereal quality to wonderful com~ ish countertenor James Bowman certain works, in l /ii~*:,i.:$~$;i ten the libretti for Purcell's popular joins Canadian Daniel Taylor for part because they poser. But the rea- stage works King Arthur and The what is being justly billed a coun- use vibrato spartertenor extravaganza. ingly, only for ex- garded as a genius It needs to be read without the mu­ son he was re- Fairy Queen. "It's a very fine text. Bowman is a pioneer of the pressive purpose5 by his contempo- sic, then listened to with the music." flourishing early music movement rather than to raries was because In Purcell's tjme, countertenors and the major force in the. resurging pr~ject the sound. ~~~t his music was so dominated the alto range, in part role of the countertenor. Bowman, ·; Bowman ,,,..,,~,_......., '·· strange. Handel because much of the music was who is called "my living hero" by does not see the and Bach are much ecclesiastical and women weren't leading countertenor Andreas current enthusi­ more easy to understand". aJ.lowed to participate. But after Scholl, has made over 180 record- a,sm for counterings. Since his debut in 1967 in Ben- tenors as a pass­ "Purcell was Handel arrived in England in 1710, alto parts started being shared between female contraltos, male counj amin Britten's -A Midsummer ingphenomenon .•..,,,_. sung rather too politely before." Peo-· Night's Dream he has blazed his way When I spoke to tertenors, and castrati from Italy. across ,opera and concert stages him by telephone I!!!!:~!!!!!=!!!....~~~_... pie always did his Handel wrote for the voices he had throughout the world. Yet Bowman at his home outhasn't been in Toronto since a 1974 side London, he said\ '"In Europe and didn't give due emphasis to the wrote for later perfonnances. music too slowly, at hand, then. adapted or even re­ visit with the brilliant and mercurial · these days there are certain works word-painting. Alfred Deller started While Taylor is diplomatic David Munrow and his revolution- that people only want to hear sung to lead the way with some very beautiful recordings. You can't sing Bowman defends the appropriate­ about sharing roles· with women, ary Early Music Consort of London. by countertenors. The days of coun- Canadian Danie.I Taylor ranks tertenors being an oddity have gone, Purcell with overblown, operatic ne~s of the countertenor voice for with Andreas Scholl and David It's very much a mainstream voice voices. It doesn't need too much ornamentation, since a lot of his mu­ "Handel certainly intended a role like male roles in baroque opera: Daniels among the foremost coun- here now. The whole tradition here tertenors of his generation. "James is different than in Canada." sic is so ornamented the way he Julius Caesar to be sung by the high has been very important to me," says The recent enthusiasm for the wrote it. It's got to be sung by a male voice and not by a contralto, Taylor, speaking by telephone from countertenor voice is inextricably very pure, straight voice like Daniel or a bass - that's completely wrong. his home in Montreal, having re- linked to the work of conductors and Taylor or Emma Kirkby." Handel did use· the contralto voice cently returned from Taiwan, and performers who present historically "Purcell is not a composer who for certain things. But they need to preparing to set off for Israel. "He aware performances, backed up by springs to everybody's lips," says be sung not only at the correct pitch, did so much of the leg-work estab- scholars who study how the music Bowman,' ~hen told how rarely but also with the right timbre of lishing and popularizing th~ reper- was presented in the period and Purcell is done here. "You can put voice. You don't want a woman's toire I now perform. He's so mod~ comb libraries to find long-lost treaest, gifted .and generous that I don't sures. Spain or France, but not in Ger­ Maureen Forrester was a wonder­ on a program of Purcell in England, voice if it's plummy and wobbly. many. Even in England he attracts a ful singer who did Handel beautifully. She's qne of the few women very specialist audience. He's very much a European. The French love who really brought it off because she him - I think because, although he's sounded quite masculine." quintessentially English, he's related to Lully, Rameau, and Charpentier." The March 2 program w.ill feattire what Taylor calls "the countertenor duet piece," John Blow's monurriental Ode on the Death of Mr. Henry Purcell, written when Purcell died suddenly in 1695, just 36 years old. Bowman says: "It's a very intellectual, interior piece and demands a great deal of concentration, since it doesn't show its heart on its sleeve." By the 19'h century there was little demand for the countertenor voice. Although today countertenors like Daniels are nonetheless singing 19'h century repertoire, neither Taylor nor Bowman feels his voice is suitable. But they boi:h perform modem and contemporary music. Says Bow-· man: "There is a large hole in the countertenor repertoire from the Continued on page 44 PHILIP L. DA VIS 'Luthi er fonnerly with J.f. Schroder: Honkfwt, West Gennany A Fine Selection of Small_ and Full Sized Instruments and Bows • Expert Repairs (416) 466-9619 . 67 Wolverleigh Blvd., Toronto, Ontario, M4J 1R6 8 . February 1 -- M arch 7 2002

AK ING SOUND BETTER CLASSICAL . ~ February 1 -- March 7 2002 9

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