Last night Philippe Jaroussky appeared with Les Violins du Roy and conductor Matthieu Lussier in a mostly Handel program at Koerner Hall. It was a very good evening. Les Violons du Roy is a pretty small band; less than twenty including continuo, but they manage to produce quite a big sound while remaining elegant and flexible in a thoroughly idiomatic baroque way. The instrumental component consisted of a Handel overture, Fux’ Ouverture in D minor and Johann Gottlieb Graun’s (not the better known Carl Graun who was apparently his brother) Symphony in B Flat Major. It was a pretty good sampling of what one might have heard in the courts of Germany in the early 1700s and rather enjoyable.
The singing was all Handel, all Italian and mostly from lesser known works like Radamisto and Flavio, re di Longobardi. Jaroussky has an interesting voice. It’s extremely accurate and flexible and rather beautiful but it doesn’t quite have the heft of, say, Andreas Scholl. It’s easy to see why he tends to get cast as adolescents rather than emperors; more Sesto than Giulio Cesare. Still, he’s
not close to still just about under forty yet so who knows how things might develop. He’s certainly a fine stylist. The repeat in Se potessero i sospir’miei(*) from Imoneo was quite subtle but very interesting and Inumano fratei… Stille amare from Tolomeo was sung with the greatest delicacy. It was all very classy indeed and really quite fun.
It was a generous evening too. Jaroussky gave us three encores finishing up with a ravishingly beautiful Ombra mai fu.
(*)This is the one that sounds for about the first couple of bars as if it’s going to be AS with rosy steps the morn from Theodora.