Counterstrike: Jaroussky, Rial & Pluhar at Musikfest Bremen


[Claudio Monteverdi: “Ohimè ch’io cado” with some Bizet, Bond, Khachaturian, Mozart and “Orfeo” on the side]

While I was out for four days in Assyria, I managed to sneak off one night and catch Philippe Jaroussky, Núria Rial and L’Arpeggiata and their “Teatro d’amore” program (the exact listing was this). Half of the recording was in it, the other half wasn’t (on a side note, the recording is on sale at for 7,99€ right now).

I got you a sneak peak, though, since I and my (t)rusty old cellphone tried to record the encores (always just the encores, I try to console myself with the fact that it has to be less illegal than taping parts of the actual concert) – the one above is the funniest, with the cornett player (Doron Sherwin) adding musical quotes and entering into a little “Farinelli and the trumpet player” with Jaroussky, who swings and jokes and even takes a dip into tenor register in the middle.

My recordings are, as always, lousy, but it may give you an impression. Especially the third.

It was my first L’Arpeggiata live concert and I can only confirm the dozens of YouTube videos: these folks know how to rock a hall. Sometimes, the improvisation is bordering very much on 20th century jazz, but the sheer fact that they work with a lot of improvisation and diminutions should be enough to make any really historically informed listener happy. They even got those reserved Northerners to rise for standing ovations, after the first few songs were still met with an air of “um, are you sure there aren’t more musicians required even in this kind early music stuff?” It was very amusing to watch, and gratifying to see how people warmed up to just a theorbo and friends.

The band encompassed nine people and as always after a band concert, you leave with a little crush on the amazing drummer. This was no exception. David Mayoral does some phenomenal percussion, on some instruments that must be reconstructed after Bosch paintings or something of that kind. Amazing. It’s kind of hard to single someone out, though, since they were all wonderful, from barock violin to psaltery (yes, I had to look that one up – especially since it isn’t plucked, but beaten in L’Arpeggiata).

Singers of the evening were Catalán soprano Nuria Rial, whom I hadn’t heard live before, and favorite counter crush Jaroussky. He cut his hair somewhat, he still wears slim cut shirts and suit jackets with small lapels. And his phrasing, especially in the more edgy pieces of the evening like Sances’ “Stabat mater” is through the roof. About the exquisite sweetness of his sound, I do not need to say anything else.

Rial’s voice blends extremely well with Jaroussky’s; it is a little fuller in the register changes, but remains light, yet it has nothing airy about it. It sounds warm. If there was a thing like a baroque lyric, that’s probably what she’d be. The sound is round, yet slender, flexible, yet full and even, yet never boring. Her projection is pitch-perfect, there isn’t a note out of sync. And she has that early baroque dolcezza quality that makes her perfect for this Monteverdi & Co program.

The final two encores – two duets – give an impression of how well their voices match:


Domenico Maria Melli: “Dispiegate, guance amate”


Giovanni Legrenzi: “Lumi, potete piangere”

2 thoughts on “Counterstrike: Jaroussky, Rial & Pluhar at Musikfest Bremen”

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