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Every day we post 10 new Classical CD and DVD reviews. A free weekly summary is available by e-mail. MusicWeb is not a subscription site. To keep it free please purchase discs through our links.

  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    



Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Overture: Der Schauspieldirektor
Concerto for Two Pianos in E flat major, K365
Aria: L'amero, saro costante, K208 (Il re pastore)
Concert Aria: Ma, che vi fege, o stelle, K368
Symphony in F major, K112

Clara Haskil, Géza Anda (pianos)
Erika Köth (soprano)
Camerata Academica Salzburg
Bernhard Paumgartner
Rec 4 August 1957, Mozarteum Salzburg
ORFEO C 572 011 B [60.57]


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Recorded nearly 45 years ago at the Salzburg Mozarteum, this interesting programme features some of the finest Mozart performers of their generation.

No sooner have the opening chords of the Impresario Overture begun than the disc's strengths and, alas, weaknesses, become apparent. There is abundant freshness and vitality, to be sure, but the sound undermines it. Allied with a general dimness of tone, the string sound is unpleasantly wiry. It is a great pity but it is a risk encountered with older recordings. The remastering certainly has not eradicated the weakness.

The strings sound better focused in the double piano concerto, but the dimness remains. The performance is excellent, Haskil and Anda making an effective team, as their pedigree would lead us to expect.

The two arias fare best, since the beautiful voice of Erika Köth is actually captured in a pleasing focus, though the orchestral sound in once again thin. But this is a performance worth investigating, not least because such gems are to be found. Il re pastore is a charming piece and this aria is particularly so. Paumgartner conducts with great sensitivity, shaping the phrases with taste and concern for his singer's breathing.

The other vocal item is the recitative and aria is Ma, che vi fege, o stelle, K368, which Mozart composed in Munich during 1780, for Elisabeth Wendling, who had introduced the role of Elettra there in his Idomeneo. The piece starts with an expressive recitative before moving to a lively aria in which the vocal pyrotechnics attest to the qualities the singer must have shown in performing the coloratura role she had created in the opera. Not does Erika Köth disappoint here, with magnificently steady tone and accuracy of pitch. Like so many of the concert arias, this is magnificent music, and so is the performance.

The Symphony in F major was written in 1771 by the 15 year old Mozart to take on a trip to Italy. As such its intention was to impress, and it is certainly a lively, inventive piece, though the recorded sound restricts the impact of Paumgartner's brilliant and carefully prepared performance.


Terry Barfoot


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