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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)
Mozart Edition Volume 2

Le Nozze di Figaro [176 min.]
Il Conte di Almaviva: Huub Claessens
La Contessa: Patrizia Biccire
Figaro: Werner van Mechelen
Cherubino: Monika Groop
Marzellina: Béatrice Cramoix
Bartolo: Harry van der Kamp
Basilio: Yves Saelens
Don Curzio: Philip Defrancq
Antonio: Jean-Guy Devienne
Barbarina: Marie Kuijken
Choeur de Chambre de Namur
La Petite Bande, Sigiswald Kuijken
Rec: 5 June 1998, Palacio de Congresos y Auditios, La Coruña, Spain.
Apollo et Hyacinthus [85 min.]
Oebalus: John Dickie
Melia: Venceslava Hruba-Freiberger
Hyacinthus: Arno Raunig
Apollo: Ralf Popken
Zephyrus: Axel Köhler
Rundfunkchor Leipzig
Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Leipzig, Max Pommer
Rec: 1990, Leipzig.
BRILLIANT CLASSICS 99714 5CDs [approx 261 minutes]


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This second set in Brilliant Classics’ complete Mozart series brings one of Mozart’s finest and best-loved operas - Le Nozze di Figaro - together with a lesser known lyrical work, Apollo et Hyacinthus. With a marked difference between the two performances, these two works and recordings are complementary. The former is a live recording on period instruments, conducted by Sigiswald Kuijken, one of the stalwarts of early and baroque music. The latter, a studio recording conducted by Max Pommer, is a hybrid recording, which sounds as though the instruments are more modern, though it uses a harpsichord for continuo.

Sigiswald Kuijken recorded Figaro for Accent records in 1998, and this set is a live recording from the same period. Most of the soloists are the same as on the studio recording. The sound of this set is very good for a live recording, and the orchestra and soloists express a fine level of energy. The choir sounds a bit muddy at times, but almost all of the soloists are top-rate. Werner van Mechelen is a very good Figaro, and Christiane Oelze is an excellent Susanna. This is perhaps not a "great" Figaro, but the overall quality of the singers and musicians makes it certainly worth its bargain price.

Apollo et Hyacinthus is a lesser-known work among Mozart’s corpus of vocal music. The music on this set was used as interludes in a "spoken drama" by Clementia Croesi, probably to add some interest to a text that the notes call "dry". The recording is interesting, though. Dense choral movements alternate with thick-sounding string accompaniment and recitatives with a harpsichord playing continuo. Pommer gives a hybrid performance - while most of the instruments sound modern, the harpsichord is clearly period. The singers are excellent despite Venceslava Hruba-Freiberger who suffers from ‘the chirps’ - not a single note comes out of her mouth without vibrato. Nevertheless, there are some fine moments in this set, and this is an interesting curiosity.

A very good set consisting of one of Mozart’s finest operas and a little-known work. This bargain-priced box set will delight Mozart fans, and continue to please those collecting this complete Mozart edition.

Kirk McElhearn

 


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