A Nocte Temporis, Reinoud Van Mechelen (tenor)
Prolific representations of pastoral life are sometimes dismissed as whimsy, especially when the members of the nobility were masquerading as Shepherds. I too had long assumed that here was a sensibility slightly beyond my grasp until my own middle age crept upon me and I found myself googling digital detox holidays for exhausted middle-managers. Not, it turns out, a million miles away from the fleeting escapism of a Brunette, which is a fantasy of the simple life and its potential for uncomplicated love. Yet, on this recording, what I had expected to be simple rustic escapism has touched a nerve, largely due to the gloriously tender and intimate performances.
Easy songs, simple sentiments simply sung by an easy voice. But what a voice! I’m deeply impressed with Reinoud Van Mechelen, so clearly a prodigy of Le Jardin de Voix powerhouse for young singers. If you haven’t heard his smoothly charming haute-contre then do make this album your starting point. He has a shimmering grace in the high register that sits somewhere between tenor Mark Padmore and countertenor Gérard Lesne topped off by an intimate and sensual diction that makes these songs sparkle. He’s also particularly good at half-whispered asides, such as the third stanza of the opening où êtes-vous allé, mes belles Amourettes?
To read the full text of this review please visit www.gramophone.co.uk (August 2022)