O che felice giorno
La bella man vi stringo Carissimi
Come sete importuni
Nò, nò mio core
Cara e dolce mia vita DIndia
Quella vermiglia rosa
Mentre chel cor Frescobaldi
Ti lascio anima mia
Così mi disprezzate?
Cento Partite sopra Passacaglia [harpsichord solo] Froberger
Toccata in D minor [harpsichord solo] Kapsberger
Toccata; Passacaglia; Canario [theorbo solos] Marazzoli
Dice, Amor, che morirò Rossi
Mio ben, teco il tormento
Lasciate, Averno Stradella
Così, Amor mi fai languir
Nigel Rogers (tenor)
Elizabeth Kenny (theorbo)
Lina Zilinskyte (harpsichord)
Nigel Rogers: 70th-Birthday Recital
Tuesday, May 03, 2005 Wigmore Hall, London
Reviewed by William Yeoman
This recital by tenor Nigel Rogers marked not only his 70th-birthday but also the 40th-anniversary of his first Wigmore Hall recital and was a homage to Giacomo Carissimi on the 400th-anniversary of his birth in 1605. The programme comprised a selection of songs, canzoni, arias and cantatas by (mostly) Italian composers of the late-16th and early-17th centuries. In addition to accompanying Rogers, Elizabeth Kenny and Lina Zilinskyte provided instrumental interludes of great charm.
Nigel Rogers, one of the leading exponents of the Baroque style of singing in the second half of the 20th-century featuring a new approach to voice production and mastery of florid improvised embellishment has, on the strength of this recital, much of his technique remarkably intact. The voice is light and beautiful (though now with the richness in the lower register that comes with age); theres a lack of obtrusively wide vibrato; the flexibility is incredible (evinced by some astonishingly rich ornamentation throughout the evening); the overall range is diminished only at the extremes (the top sounding slightly forced). The worst that can be said is that theres a general lack of energy, resulting in some breathlessness and a slightly ragged tone, again most noticeable in the upper register. But these quibbles were easily vanquished by the sheer artistry of the man, whether in the jaunty rhythms and lavish ornamentation of Carissimis "Nò, nò mio core", the grace and eloquence of DIndias "Quella vermiglia rosa" and "Mentre chel cor" or the passacaglia form of Rossis lamento "Mio ben teco".
The instrumental accompaniment was both well executed and used with much taste and care for the affective nature of the texts. While both harpsichord and theorbo were generally used together, one would alternate with the other in the strophic songs and where the sense demanded. Lina Zilinskytes playing was intelligent and sensitive though perhaps a touch prosaic (especially noticeable in the Froberger, where I could not help but compare with Richard Egarrs performance of the same piece I heard last year). Elizabeth Kennys was more expressive; she extracted a lot of colour from her instrument and used the bass strings to great dramatic effect. But each musician complemented the other well, providing a varied timbral space for Rogers to move in.
Despite some slight monotony generated by an overabundance of ornamentation and much of the material being of a quasi-recitative nature, this was an enjoyable and interesting programme; a pity, then, that the hall wasnt even a third full. But what the audience lacked in numbers, it made up for in enthusiasm.