And so another countertenor of the first water appears on the scene with the issue of David Hansen's debut disc 'Rivals', which is devoted to music written for Farinelli and his rival castrati. Make no mistake, this is a spectacular debut; Hansen's singing is of a quality to place him in direct rivalry with the current 'greats' of the countertenor scene, David Daniels, Max Emanuel Cencic and Philippe Jaroussky. His voice is quite distinctive, melodious and attractive throughout its immense range. It is not perhaps as rich as Daniels in the lower register and not as 'feminine'. He is capable of an amazing lightness, like Jaroussky, but without his occasional shrillness. Perhaps he is most like Cencic but with a spectacular and fabulously sweet upper register. This young Australian is a very welcome addition to ranks of the 'guys who sing high'.
Eight of the nine tracks on this very generous disc (76½ mins) are world premiere recordings and that is not perhaps too surprising. Each of them affords the singer ample opportunities to display his technique, which Hansen does to brilliant effect. But it has to be said that they lack any great musical quality. They are all by little-known composers and, frankly, 76 minutes of this kind of music is too much of a good thing. But taken in sensible doses, the individual items can be very exciting. Broschi's 'Son qual nave', written for his brother, Farinelli, is the high point of the disc, a real show-stopper.
David Hansen is a very fortunate young man - he is photogenic (handsome, muscular and lightly bearded) and he has an extraordinary and beautiful voice with a faultless technique. His breath control is fantastic. I understand his wish to mark his arrival with something quite distinctive, and that he has achieved, but I look forward to a disc of music which will allow us to see how wide a range of emotion he can display through his singing. In the meantime, no one who has even the mildest interest in the art of singing should miss the opportunity to meet this exciting young man.