A. Scholl, Songs of Myself
(released on April 13, 2010)
HMC 902051 | 80'53"
Oswald von Wolkenstein, Geistliche und weltliche Lieder (in Denkmäler der Tonkunst in Österreich, 18)
Singers have often asked me for repertory suggestions, and I often push them toward medieval monophony, of either sacred or secular varieties, as a way to add something truly unexpected to a vocal recital. The issues of language pronunciation or musical interpretation often deter singers from taking up such a proposal, but Scholl's performance here makes a compelling argument. He collaborates with Shield of Harmony, a group of Renaissance instrumental specialists who provide accompaniments for most of the pieces (either derived from the other voices of the polyphonic songs or improvised, in a style reminiscent of director Crawford Young's earlier work with Benjamin Bagby's group, Sequentia), but monophonic songs are often most expressive just as they are written, focusing the listener solely on the beauty of the lone voice and the recitation of the text (as in Scholl's solo rendition of Herz, müt, leib, sel, one of the loveliest moments on this disc). The variation of interpretations presented here, all based on the forthcoming edition by Marc Lewon, keeps the mood of the recording lively. Scholl chooses to sing Durch Barbarei Arabia and Wes mich mein bühl, Oswald's grouchy plaintes for his domestic misery, in his baritone voice (!), while Ach, senliches leiden is sung more or less as it is notated, with Scholl's countertenor on the lower part and Kathleen Dineen, who is a soprano as well as the group's harpist, on the discantus. Dineen makes a very pleasing sound here, as well as in Bist grüßt maget reine, a gorgeous, Lauda-like paraphrase of the Salve regina. A few anonymous dance pieces are thrown in by the instrumental ensemble for contrast, and other highlights include Scholl's hilarious avian cries in Der mai mit lieber zal.