Les Talens Lyriques and Ann Hallenberg at Wigmore Hall (28 April, 2014)

The Farinelli Show

When Les Talens Lyriques are in town with Ann “Ariodante” Hallenberg you’ve got to see them – if you like Baroque at all.

I reached Wigmore Hall around 7pm, collected my ticket and went out for some fresh air. It was a beautiful day so I took some pictures of the building across the street.

After the bell rang, an announcer came in to tell us to quit our coughing as the show was being broadcast by Radio 3. I also saw a camera at the back and inquiry revealed it was from BBC World News. I took my seat with plenty of time to go and snapped some pictures of the skylight. The light is terrible in there and most pictures don’t come out well.

A bunch of tall old chaps shuffled in the next row up. The one with the stiffest back sat right in front of me and my view was effectively blocked. I like to see the performers so I “upgraded” to the seat to my right. Luckily the owner never showed up. The next old chap in front had a very dramatic comb-over and wavy hair on the side of his head only, coupled with a tendency to droop towards his left, aka my line of vision. I had to droop along with him and fantasize about what a pair of scissors could do. Two French chatterboxes were sat behind me and talked up a storm until the moment Ann Hallenberg opened her own mouth to say son.

It’s wonderful to attend a performance by musicians who are so obviously in tune with each other. The whole show flowed, lovely details in the music were emphasised, Hallenberg and the orchestra had a lovely dialogue throughout.

Son qual nave ch’agitata, Artaserse (R. Broschi): you could tell the orchestra had played for so long they barely needed a few moments to warm up and then just launched into it like clockwork but warmly. Hallenberg had one of her flowing capes on and looked cheerful and laid-back as usual. If you’ve heard her sing this before you know she rocks it. She was maybe a bit tight on Son but other than that everything was as smooth as it can be. I was once again surprised at how soft a Baroque orchestra sounds. Hallenberg herself has a small-ish voice but she can project with the best of them when she wants to, which happened a few times during the evening. She does a hell of a lot of things with her voice, besides having amazing breath control.

Ombra fedele anch‘io, Idaspe (R. Broschi): a sensitive aria. Hallenberg’s voice has a warm and elegant tone just right for this kind of thing. Her pianissimos rock.

Symphony in G minor Op. 6 No. 6 (J.C. Bach): came out lovely. Sometimes at recitals I fear the instrumentals because, hey, I come for the singing. But this one kept my attention. Les Talens Lyriques comes around quite often so maybe I’ll go see them even without a beloved singer.

Se pietoso il tuo labbroSemiramide riconosciuta (1729) (N. Porpora): Hallenberg re-joined them for a very lyrical number, which sports a chord progression familiar to me from Alcina (the bit right after the overture).

Già presso al termine, Adriano in Siria (1733) (G. Giacomelli): I can’t remember this one and I can’t find it on youtube…

Alto Giove, Polifemo (1735) (N. Porpora): more of that warm and elegant tone for this one. It came out rather dramatic, with some nice touches in volume dynamics. One of the things I like about Hallenberg’s voice is that, although very warm and gentle, it’s never overly melancholic.

Passagier che incerto, Adriano in Siria (1733) (G. Giacomelli): I liked it a lot and I can’t seem to find it on youtube 😦 Giacomelli is rather poorly represented on there. Hallenberg showed off her sense of humour in the way she dropped the ornaments over the very rhythmicaly driven orchestra.

Overture to Cleofide (J.A. Hasse): an ugly title but a very chipper overture done with a lot of gusto. Must investigate the opera further.

Che legge spietata, Catone in Utica (1729) (L. Leo): Hallenberg returned for another dramatic aria. I’m afraid that’s all I remember about it as I don’t actually know it and youtube only has Vivaldi’s version.

Cervo in boscoCatone in Utica (1729) (L. Leo): done with much humour by Hallenberg, great mixing of rhythm and ornaments. She seemed to enjoy herself even more than usual with this one. The horns were also great.


Sta nell’ircana, Alcina (1735) (G.F. Handel): although a Carestini aria, it was a big hit with everybody, endless applause. The stiff chap in front of me unexpectedly came to life and started cheering very loudly. Who’d have known he had it him!? Hallenberg is hardly the most heroic singer but she brings out the light-heartedness of this bravura aria beautifully. I was so ecstatic, I snapped my fingers when Rousset announced it… don’t ask me why – aside from the fact that closing the night with something from Alcina is a sure hit with me.

A great evening of vivacious music-making.


About dehggial

Mozart/Baroque loving red dragon

Posted on April 29, 2014, in baroque, fachs of the world, historical timeline, live performances, mezzos & contraltos and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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