> Mozart - The Impresario [KME]: Classical Reviews- March 2002 MusicWeb(UK)






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Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756 - 1791)
The Impresario (Der Schauspieldirektor) K.486
Cyndia Sieden -- soprano
Sharon Baker -- soprano
John Aler -- tenor
Kevin Deas -- bass-baritone
The Beneficent Dervish (Der Wohltatige Derwisch) [composed by a member of Mozartís circle]
Sharon Baker -- soprano
Deanne Meek -- mezzo-soprano
John Aler -- tenor
Kevin Deas -- bass-baritone
Boston Baroque, Martin Pearlman
Rec: 1989
TELARC CD-80573 [66.16]


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About the time that Mozart was composing Le Nozze di Figaro, Emperor Joseph II threw a party in the Schönbrunn palace in Vienna, after which he wanted to hold a musical competition - two composers would write works that would compete: one a singspiel and the other an Italian opera. The Emperor commissioned Mozart to compose the singspiel and Salieri to compose the opera. Mozartís entry in the competition was The Impresario, a work the notes to this recording describe as "long, diffuse, and rather silly". But, without the dialogues, as it is presented here, this work contains about twenty minutes of fine music, that certainly recalls Figaro and other of Mozartís operas.

Beginning with a grand overture - much more grandiose than could be expected for such a work; perhaps Mozart wanted to truly impress the listeners - the music of The Impresario is in five parts, the four other sections being an arietta, a duet, a trio and a vaudeville. The performance here is fine, the soloists are all very good, though the orchestra overwhelms the voices at times, making it very difficult to actually hear the words they are singing. The bits of music here are all taken out of context, and should be seen as merely excerpts from a larger theatrical work. But, as such, they do show a fine level of composition. (Note that, for a fine recording of The Impresario, coupled with The Magic Flute, one need look no further than the Karl Böhm recording on DG, recorded in 1974. With Arleen Augér, Peter Schreier and Kurt Moll, this is an excellent performance. Not to mention Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau singing Papageno in Magic FluteÖ)

The second work on this disc is a singspiel, The Beneficent Dervish, written by a composer in "Mozartís circle". Performed in the same theatre where Mozartís Magic Flute was produced, one year later, this work was performed by the same company of singers, and has a similar "fairy tale" theme. One is told that it "can give us a fascinating new perspective on Mozartís great masterpiece". But this work is nowhere near the level of The Magic Flute. Attractive and entertaining, this world premiere recording contains some interesting parts, and others which are merely simplistic filler.

For listeners who are truly interested in the context of Mozartís operas, this disk contains an interesting work. The Impresario is short, though attractive, and The Beneficent Dervish gives a glimpse of what was being done in Mozartís circle. While not essential, this disc is entertaining and well performed.

Kirk McElhearn


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