Thursday 27 March 2014

The A-Z of Mozart Opera

The A to Z of Mozart
The A-Z of Mozart Opera: Classical Opera, Ian Page: Signum Classics
Reviewed by Robert Hugill on Mar 20 2014
Star rating: 5.0

Lovely survey of Mozart's entire operatic output with a fine generation of young singers

This reissue (now on Signum originally on Sony BMG) acts as something of taster for Classical Opera's ongoing project recording the complete Mozart operas. This disc includes music from each of Mozart's operas presented in chronological order. Recorded in 2007, the disc is a compilation of some fine lyric voices, some 11 singers in total, performing one aria or ensemble each from 15 operas, with Ian Page conducting the Orchestra of Classical Opera. One of the charms of the disc is not just the way it gives us an overview of Mozart's operas, but also an interesting overview of a cross section of young singers.

We start with Apollo et Hyacinthus (1767), written before Mozart became a teenager. The duet Natus cadit, sung by Martene Grimson and Allan Clayton, is a lovely lyric item with two flexible voices in shapely form. Rebecca Bottone sings the aria Amoretti, che ascosi qui siete from La finta semplice with a lovely line and beauty of tone. In both of these it is amazing how many fingerprints from Mozart's later operas are discernible. Matthew Rose then sings  Diggi, daggi, schurry, murry from Bastien und Bastienne which is a highly characterful piece.

With Mitridate Re di Ponto (1770) we move to a group of works which each written for Milan. Se viver no degg'io the duet from the opera is sung in its original version by Rebecca Bottone and Martene Grimson. Initially lyrically expressive, it gets rather busier and we are treated to some impressive passagework. Anna Leese's performance of Fra i pensier piu funesti from Lucia Silla is moving and intense, convincingly emotional. Rather sadly, we miss out the third opera for Milan, Ascanio in Alba

The next opera was La finta giardiniera for Munich in 1774-75, and Kara Ek is poised and lyrical in the cavatina Geme la tortorella. La re pastore, written for Salzburg in 1775, gives us a lively ensemble Viva l'invitto duce with Cora Burggraaf, Rebecca Bottone, Anna Leese, Andrew Staples and Allan Clayton. This is starting to sound like mature Mozart, and the singers give us a characterful ensemble with expressive, lyric voices.

Mozart's Zaide is intriguing. An unfinished sing-spiel started in 1779-80 the surviving music is of superb standard, and Susan Gritton is supremely classy in Ruhe sanft, mein holdes Leben with an expressive sense of line and sophisticated tone.

With Idomeneo (written for Munich in 1781) we reach the first of Mozart's really mature operas. Here we have the quartet  Andro ramingo e solo with Cora Burggraaf as a passionate, quite lyric Idamante and Martene Grimson as a bright, dignified Illia, the two having quite comparable voices. Anna Leese makes a rich toned Elettra with Allan Clayton a noble, passionate Idomeneo. The results are intense, passionate with long lyric lines and a wonderfully impulsive feel to the tempi.

Die Entfuhrung aus dem Serail was the first opera Mozart wrote for Vienna in 1782. Andrew Staples makes an ideal lyric Belmonte, singing the aria Konstanze... O wie angstlich, his voice flexible with a hint of edge and heft. We don't get anything from Mozart's next operas, the incomplete L'oca del Cairo and Lo sposo deluso and the comedy Der Schauspieldirektor which might have helped to fill in the operatic gap between Die Entfuhrung aus dem Serail and Mozart's three great operas written with librettist Lorenzo da Ponte.

Matthew Rose sings  Figaro's cavatina Se vuol ballare, signor Contino, making quite a dark voiced Figaro. The aria is dramatically vivid, with Rose giving a nice feeling of underlying threat. Mark Stone is characterful and not a little seductive in Don Giovanni's Deh vieni all finestra. Finally, in the Da Ponte trio we have the quintet, Di scrivermi ogni giorni from Cosi fan tutte with Anna Leese as Fiordiligi, Cora Burggraaf as Dorabella, Andrew Staples as Ferrando, Mark Stone as Guglielmo and Matthew Rose as Don Alfonso, full of character and musicality.

We are treated to Servilia and Annio's duet A perdona al pimo affetto from La Clemenza di Tito; delightful and charming with both singers, Rebecca Bottone and Cora Burggraaf, showing a nice flexibility of voice. But I would have rather liked to have one of the large scale arias; judging by her Elettra earlier on the disc, Anna Leese would make a fine Vitellia. This just one of the slightly niggling examples of the choices of aria on the disc, with so much to choose from, it is perhaps inevitable that we might think that other choices could be made.

Finally, we get the quintet from Die Zauberflote, Hm! hm! hm! hm! with Klara Ek, Martene Grimson and Jennifer Johnson as the three ladies, Allan Clayton as Tamino and Mark Stone as Papageno. A delightful conclusion to a lovely disc.

Ian Page and the orchestra of Classical Opera accompany everything with style and charm, and the cast of singers give us a sequence of finely lyrical performances. All in all this is a lovely disc which manages to introduce both Mozart's genius and a range of lovely lyric voices, all in stylish performances which certainly make you want to hear more.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 - 1791) -  Natus cadit  (Apollo et Hyacinthus) [5.37]
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 - 1791) -  Amoretti, che ascosi qui siete  (La finta semplice) [4.50]
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 - 1791) -  Diggi, daggi, schurry, murry (Bastien und Bastienne) [1.29]
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 - 1791) -  Se viver no degg'io (Mitridate, re di Ponto) [7.47]
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 - 1791) -  Fra i pensier piu funesti (Lucio Silla) [3.13]
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 - 1791) -  Geme la tortorella (La finta giardiniera) [4.42]
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 - 1791) -  Viva l'invitto duce (Il re pastore) [6.26]
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 - 1791) -  Ruhe sanft, mein holdes Leben (Zaide) [5.59]
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 - 1791) -  Andro ramingo e solo (Idomeneo) [6.00]
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 - 1791) -  Konstanze... O wie angstlich (Die Entfuhrung aus dem Serail) [4.37]
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 - 1791) -  Se vuol ballare, signor Contino (Le nozze di Figaro) [3.12]
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 - 1791) - Deh vieni all finestra  (Don Giovanni) [2.06]
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 - 1791) - Di scrivermi orni giorno (Cosi fan tutte) [2.32]
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 - 1791) - Ah perdona al primo affetto (La clemenza di Tito) [2.52]
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 - 1791) - Hm! hm! hm! hm!  (Die Zauberflote) [6.17]
Rebecca Bottone (soprano)
Klara Ek (soprano)
Martene Grimson (soprano)
Susan Gritteon (soprano)
Anna Leese (soprano)
Cora Burggraaf (mezzo-soprano)
Jennifer Johnston (mezzo-soprano)
Allan Clayton (tenor)
Andrew Staples (tenor)
Mark Stone (baritone)
Matthew Rose (bass)
The Orchestra of Classical Opera
Ian Page (conductor
Recorded  2007, St Jude on the Hill, London

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