* Notes *
Tenor Ian Bostridge (pictured left, photo by Simon Fowler) performed with Les Violons du Roy at Cal Performances yesterday in Berkeley. The performance was odd but certainly of interest. For one thing, the string players of Les Violons du Roy use Baroque bows on modern instruments. The effect was bizarre, given that the bowing technique did not strike me as particularly historically informed. The playing under Bernard Labadie was fairly legato, with clear dynamic contrasts, and a nice airiness. The brisk tempi of Geminiani's Concerto Grosso No. 12 in D minor was particularly dumbfounding.
Many of the pieces Bostridge sang were those that Händel wrote for three particular tenors: Francesco Borosini, Annibale Pio Fabri, and John Beard. His voice is light and pretty. Singing with the ensemble, some of his lower notes did not resonate as nicely has his high ones did. Bostridge showed very little strain in his singing, only a few notes of Vivaldi's "La tiranna" from Arsilda, Regina di Ponto were less than effortless. Bostridge is a somewhat awkward fellow, but this is disarming at times, as when he explained how he considered "From Celestial Seats Descending" the "sexiest music Händel ever wrote." Bostridge and Les Violons du Roy gave two encores, the first from Conti's Don Chisciotte in Sierra Morena, and the second from Boyce's Solomon.
* Tattling *
Sadly, the orchestra level of Zellerbach Hall was only half full. I was seated in front of the wife of a prominent person at Cal Performances, who had the unfortunate habit of tapping her toes to some of the music. She was always on beat, but after intermission I took it upon myself to move up two rows, where I would not be directly in front of anyone.