Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-91)
Die Entführung aus dem Serail, K384.
Yelda Kodalli (soprano) Konstanze;
Paul Groves (tenor) Belmonte; Désirée Rancatore (soprano) Blonde;
Peter Rose (bass) Osmin; Lynton Atkinson (tenor) Pedrillo; Oliver Tobias
(speaker) Bassa Selim; Scottish Chamber chorus and Orchestra/Sir Charles
Telarc CD-80544 [131'47]
This is a curious issue. The cover proclaims this is 'as heard in the motion
picture Mozart in Turkey'. The overall production seems to be a something
of a hotch-potch (the resolution of the scan on page 15 of the booklet is,
unprofessionally, wrong, for example) and the same applies to the performance
as a whole. As always, Mackerras' approach is carefully considered, and he
even goes so far as to provide an accompanying performance manifesto. The
Turkish instruments he makes a point of including in the orchestra appear
not only in the overture and in the chorus of praise for the Bassa, but also
(stunningly unconvincingly) in Pedrillo and Osmin's Vivat Bacchus.
In both the Overture and the chorus of praise, Singt der grossen Bassa
Lieder, there is an ugly recording balance which shoves the brass right
into the listener's face. In fact, the recording is uncharacteristically
slack from the producer/engineer team of James Mallinson and Michael Hatch.
Any praise this set deserves must be reserved for the orchestra, who try
to instil verve and style at all times. The soloists, however, seem less
concerned with style, drama or even (sometimes) notes. Belmonte (Paul Groves)
obviously has the perils of his higher register on his mind in his opening
aria rather than when he will next see Konstanze. When we get to hear her
(Ach, ich liebte), she is tremulous of voice and thin of tone and
she is audible tired by her second act Traurigkeit wird mir zum Lose.
She is (unforgivably) upstaged by Blonde (Désirée Rancatore)
in Act Two's Welche Wonne, welche Lust!. Lynton Atkinson's Pedrillo
simply cannot deliver his Frisch zum Kampfe!. His tuning is particularly
wayward here. The list goes on - there is very little sense of Osmin's gloating
at O, wie will ich triumpheren (he also lacks the full basso
profondo of any self-respecting Osmin) and (the final insult) Pedrillo
is upstaged by the accompanying string pizzicati in In Mohrenland
Beecham's 1956 account on EMI provided the yardstick performance, which remains
uneclipsed to this day. If you are new to this piece, I beg you to search
this out and let Sir Thomas be your unerring guide. Otherwise, William Christie
and Les Arts Florissants on Erato 3984-25490-2 provide a refreshing alternative.