November 30, 2012

Highlights of Dutch reviews of the Amsterdam concert

After the Amsterdam concert of 25 November 2012 of course several newspapers wrote a review.
As it is of course not very interesting for non-Dutch speakers to read them, I will translate parts here.
A long review can be found not in a newspaper but

"Bartoli pleads magically for Steffani.
She is not the first one who undusts him. There are diverse recordings, like 2 years ago Niobe by the Royal Opera House (can be ordered, Ton). But only Bartoli has enough "star power" to cause  a final breakthrough. Personally I have let myself get convinced. Steffani's music offers an attractive melt-together of Italian passion, German precision and French charme. The French influence causes great dance rhythms, richness in colour thanks to prominent woodwinds and pleasant pointedness in expression.
So big praise for Bartoli's initiative although for her fans it won't make much difference what's on the programme. The applause when she entered was so overwhelming that the poor Basel musicians got overpowered. I was curious about her "small voice" but this was OK also because of the early-baroque repertoire. Steffani avoids having the orchestra start together with the voice so she did not have to force herself . Her voice is very suited to this style. By the relatively great freedom she could use her improvistion talents to the full and show all nuances of her mother language. To mention one little detail: the irresitably lovely colouring of the word "amabile". A highlight was the aria "Amami e vederai" from Niobe, only accompanied by continuo but different than on the CD.
The mythical person turns into stone by the death of her children. As audience we also became breathless and silent by Bartoli's extremely sober and deeply felt rendering (much helped by a very quiet audience without coughing, Ton). Steffani obviously influenced Handel. In Palpitanti sfere belle I heard this song end prematurely as the person dozes off into sleep. Half a century later Handel does the same in Semele when Somnus forgets his ca capo by dozing off. Funny to see where this came from.
Of course there were also vocal fireworks. Her virtuosity is still breathtaking but little errors sometimes happened. The beauty of sound suffers under the pressure she puts on her voice. But everyone will agree she is the personification of musicality. And on top of that she knows how to touch the heart by her totally individual technique.
A few encores followed, with Destero dell'empia dite from Handel's Amadigi where the sorceress Melissa sings. This qualification is also valid for Bartoli, in view of her vocal magic"
Written by Martin Toet..   

"Bewitched by Bartoli's flair and flirting" 5 stars out of 5.
Bartoli's expressive palette still belongs to the world's richest, Rabiate passion, sobbing sorrow, lyrical entrancement, biting irony, all performed in utter precision. But with Bartoli there is more than expressive richness.Especially her creative joy and real surrendering put her among the greatest musicians of our time."The human equivalent of the nightingale" she has often been called, whose technique is considered a phenomenon in itself. Her unsurpassed coloratura, perfect intonation and endless colourings in one and the same tone again dazzled her fans. She belongs to the very rare classical artists who are able to drive a concert hall to ecstacy. Her radiant stage presence and continuous flirting with the audience bring back the heated atmospheres of 18th century Italian opera houses. Steffani could not have wished for a better pleader. Everything sounded equally passionate and she plays the theatrical jokes well.
The orchestra was not quite on par with her but the fans came and fell for Bartoli and removed  tears from their eyes (I did, Ton) when she disappeared into the night after a goodbye wave.

TROUW  (4 stars)
"La Bartoli radiates and seduces"
She delivers a complete product that is perfect from all sides. Virtuosely seductress Bartoli kisses the early-baroque idiom awake. Her voice retreated in high spheres or enormous energy bounced off the stage, supplied with a radiant mimic and strong body language.
Amami e vederai: velvety words, from a golden throat, and Palpitanti sfere belle: line by line she joins the material to a unity, lightly and relaxed caught by the Basel chamber orchestra.
Not a mouse would still fit into the Concertgebouw and you could hear a pin drop, also during the encores. Handel's "Lascia la spina "was in one word: Magical.

TELEGRAAF (4 stars):
"Bartoli is united with the music"
The most beautiful she was in the silent spheres of the touching Amami or Sfere amiche. There she sings whisperingly soft but perfectly focused and seems to get ONE with the music. The vocal acrobatics remain extremely virtuosic. The audience could not get enough of it and was hanging at her lips all evening.

VOLKSKRANT  (4 stars).:
"Even when Bartoli is silent, she is the centre of her own show".
A facile vittoria (to an easy victory) Bartoli sang on Sunday and therewith summarized her own performance in triumphant notes. The agile pleasing orchestra sometimes played sparkling ouverturtes to give her voice a rest. The percussionist played  a major role with all sorts of instruments.
Bartoli's sound is not too versatile but she compensantes it by a great supplousse, a great choice, and lots of charme. Even when she does not sing she is the centre of her show and the enthusiasm she waved her audience goodbye had nothing routinely. In the victory aria she duelled with the trompettist which she always won because she always had the last word.
The aria Sfere amiche is a remarkable piece with a heavenly melody, carried by dense harmonic parts full of inner movement. But the ovations were mainly for the vocal fireworks and that one encore, Lascia la spina, which already at first chords caused a storm of enthusiasm ,which shows that the parish of highpriest Bartoli does not have any heretics". 



  1. Wow, Ton, thank you very much for translating! :)

  2. Thank you a lot, Ton. We all appreciate the work, you put into it.

  3. Ton, thank you for all these translations!

  4. Thank you:)
    A Blogger from Milano will report on Cecilia come back at the Scala

    1. Thank you!
      The drawing of Cecilia as Norma looks interesting.

      Does anyone know if the concert tonight will be broadcasted?

    2. Hi Spencer,
      No, I don't think tonight's La Scala concert will be broadcast, BUT.... the 3 Handel arias in that programme will be broadcast live on Mezzo on 31 December, at 17.30 H., direct from the Berlin Philharmonie.
      see . Those 3 arias you already heard in Amsterdam
      (won't have been a coincidence that she choose those 3, a sort of rehearsal).


    3. Little correction: not only on Mezzo, but also ARD (mentioned somewhere here and to be found by googling Silvesterkonzert ARD)

  5. Thanks for all those infirmation, it's nice to read al this good things and be able to see and read what is going on.....Big tankes :)


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