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Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Idomeneo - Opera seria in tre atti, KV 366
Idomeneo, King of Crete - Nicolai Gedda (tenor)
Idamante, his son - Adolf Dallapozza (tenor)
Arbace, confidant of the King - Peter Schreier (tenor)
Ilia, daughter of King Priam in Troy - Anneliese Rothenberger (soprano)
Elettra, daughter of King Agamemnon of Argos - Edda Moser (soprano)
High Priest of Neptune - Eberhard Büchner (tenor)
Voice of Neptune - Theo Adam (bass)
Priest - Günther Lieb
Chor des Leipziger Rundfunks
Staatskapelle Dresden/Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt
Recorded 1972
Thamos, König in Ägypten, KV 345 (336a) (a)
Les petits riens, KV 299b (b)
Ballet Music from Idomeneo, KV 366 (b)
Charlotte Lehman (soprano)
Rose Scheible (alto)
Oly Pfaff (tenor)
Bruce Abel (bass)
Württembergisches Kammerchoir und Orchester (a)
Slovak Sinfonietta (b)
Jörg Faerber (conductor) (a)
Taras Krysa (b)
(a) Licensed from VOX, USA
(b) Recorded May 2002, Zilina, Slovak Republic
Church Sonatas
Sonata in E flat major, KV 67
Sonata in B flat major, KV 68
Sonata in D major KV 69
Sonata in D major KV 144
Sonata in F major KV 145
Sonata in B flat major KV 212
Sonata in G major KV 241
Sonata in F major KV 224
Sonata in A major KV 225
Sonata in F major KV 244
Sonata in D major KV 245
Sonata in G major KV 274
Sonata in C major KV 328
Sonata in C major KV 336
Sonata in C major KV 263
Sonata in C major KV 278
Sonata in C major KV 329

Bohuslav Mtousek (violin)
Collegium Jaroslav Tuma
Licensed from Bayer records
Canons
Adagio, KV 410
Leck mir den Arsch, KV 233
Lieber Freistädtler, KV 232
Kanon KV 508a-1
O du eselhafter Martin, KV 560b
Bona nox, KV 561
Kanon KV 508a-2
Leck mich im Arsch KV 231
Kanon KV 508a-3
Kyrie KV 89
Alleluia KV 553
Ave Maria KV 554
Dona nobis pacem KV 109
Kanon KV 508a-4
Heiterkeit KV 507
Hei wenn die Gläser KV 89a
Kanon KV 508a-5
Essen, trinken KV 234
Auf das Wohl KV 508
Kanon KV 508a-6
Incipe KKV 89a II
Cantate Domino KV 89a II
Confitebor tibi KV 89a II
Tebana bella KV 89a II
Kanon KV 508a-7
G'rechtelt's enk KV 556
V'amo di core KV 348
Lacrimosa KV 555
Caro bell'idol mio KV 562
Nascoso e il mio sol KV 557
Difficile lectu KV 559
Kanon KV 508b
Seht, Sie ist dahin KV 229
Selig, selig alle KV 230
Heil dem Tag KV 347
Canon for 2 violins, viola and bass KV 191
Horch, ihr susses Lied KV 562a
Lebet wohl KV 228
Sinkt die Nacht KV 109d

Chamber Choir of Europe
Klarinetten-Trio der Musikschule Achern-Oberkirch (Robert Beck, Lea, Hamm, Joachim Fischer)
Bläsersolisten der Würteembergischen Philharmonic Reutlingen
Streicherolisten der Würteembergischen Philharmonic Reutlingen
Nicol Matt (conductor)
Recorded November 2002, Alte Kirche Fautenbach, Germany.
BRILLIANT CLASSICS 99738/1-6 [6CDs: 57.5, 58.04, 71.49, 78,25, 75.12, 68.06]
It is curious that, considering their revolutionary nature, Mozart's mature operas are bookended by two opera seria. But 'Idomeneo', is interesting not just as Mozart's take on opera seria, but as a powerful, mature drama. Surprisingly, it was slow to come to popularity, Glyndebourne's performances of the opera in the 1950s were nothing short of revolutionary. Until then the opera had hardly been performed at all since its premiere.

'Idomeneo' is an opera with a complicated textual history. Mozart cut the opera before the first performance and he tailored it to the specific singers available to the opera company. The pivotal role of Idamante was written for a castrato. Five years after the opera was premiered, it was privately performed in Vienna and for these performances Mozart produced a new version and sanctioned Idamante being performed by a tenor. Whether this was anything more than a stop-gap solution is debatable. With Idamante as a tenor, the opera requires four principal tenors which seems rather much.

We get a pretty full version of the opera on this disc, both arias for Arbace, Idamante’s acceptance of death "No, la morte" and Elettra’s final venomous "D’Oreste, d’Aiace" as well as Idomeneo’s "Torna la pace". These were cut because of the length of the opera, but make a great deal of sense in the context of a recording.

This recording dates from 1972, when a tenor Idamante was more common, so it is no surprise to find that Idamante is sung by Adolf Dallapozza. His singing is Italianate, robust but stylish. His Idamante is entirely creditable rounded off with a fine performance of his final aria. But he sounds rather mature, so I did miss the youthful impetuousness that a soprano can bring to this role. Also, there is insufficient difference in age between Idamante and his father. Nicolai Gedda, as Idomeneo, does not sound old enough to be Idamante's father, though his distinctive tone means that he is well differentiated from Dallapozza (in fact all four tenors on the disk are well differentiated.) I had high hopes from Gedda's Idomeneo, but I was disappointed. He sounds ill at ease in his first aria and 'Fuor del mar' is frankly disappointing with the tone harsh and thin, though things improve slightly in his last aria. Peter Schreier gets off to a shaky start as Arbace, but once he finds his feet he is terrific. I was glad that he had been allowed his second aria. The High Priest, Eberhard Büchner, sounds less than high priestly. His reedy tones make his accompanied recitative in Act 3 sound less than impressive.

As Illia, Anneliese Rothenberger is moving. But in her first aria, the passage work is smudged and her second aria is affecting but not a little effortful. Edda Moser makes a striking Elettra. Her opening aria is furious, but under pressure her voice has a tendency to be squally on top. She turns in some lovely singing in her Act 2 aria, but I could not help feeling that the performance as a whole was all rather prosaic and plodding, though perhaps Schmidt-Isserstedt and the orchestra did not help. She performs her final aria with an anger which carries you away, letting you forgive the performance’s rather wayward qualities

The chorus make a fine clean sound and their weighty singing of the chorus, "O voto tremendo" in Act 3 adds considerably to the power of this act. The cast's powerful performance in this Act, though, is rather let down by the voice of Neptune which is so recessed as to be virtually indecipherable and is a considerable let-down.

This is a thoroughly old-style performance. Where John Eliot Gardiner takes the recitative briskly and conversationally, Schmidt-Isserstedt prefers a relaxed, legato approach throughout. Similarly, where Gardiner's accentuation is marked and rhythms sharply defined, here it is smoother with a modern string sound adding to the mellower effect, not to mention predominantly slower speeds. And of course, there are few appoggiaturas. The overall effect is to make the recitative, which is so important in this opera, seem slow and sedate.

This recording is rather less than the sum of its parts. The cast are impressive on paper, but fail to match up to their promise in the studio. That said, it is a fine enough if old fashioned performance

The remainder of this boxed set is something of a mixed bag, with discs devoted to ballet music, church sonatas and canons.

Mozart wrote the incidental music to Tobias Gebler's play 'Thamos, König in Ägypten' in the late 1770s. There are 4 entr’actes and 3 choruses. It is his only incidental music and deserves to be far better known. The entr’actes are all well differentiated, the first is fiery, full of powerful gestures, the second (an Andante) represents noble King Thamos and treacherous Pheron, in the third a stormy G minor leads to a more tranquil B flat section which was intended to form the backdrop to melodrama, the fourth is a passionate allegro. The entr’actes form the centrepiece of the music. It opens with a chorus and finishes with two more, all three are substantial pieces mixing chorus with soloists and are rather reminiscent of 'Die Zauberflöte'. They are given rather robust performances by the Württembergisches Kammerchoir und Orchester, marred only by slight untidiness in the choir.

The remainder of the disk is made up of ballet music. The music from 'Idomeneo' is attractive, mature Mozart though it does come as a bit of let-down if it is played as part of the opera. Here the Slovak Sinfonietta under Taras Krysa give a solid performance. The other ballet 'Les Petits Riens' is a charming earlier work, consisting of an overture, six short movements and a substantial closing gavotte.

The charming church sonatas were composed in the 1770s to fill in gaps in the services in Salzburg Cathedral. Often, these are recorded as if they are organ concertos whereas the organ is generally little more than a continuo. Here the balance, if anything, errs too much on the side of caution. The rather discreet organ sound does not balance the rather forward, bright sound made by the Collegium Jaroslav Tuma. They make a clean, robust sound, performing the works in a straightforward manner but they perform them with a chamber orchestra rather than with just one instrument per part, which is the correct manner. This would not be a first choice recording, but it does make an attractive filler.

The final CD in the box is a curiosity indeed, an entire CD devoted to Mozart's canons written for a variety of different resources. The choral canons, sacred and secular, are interspersed with instrumental canons written for clarinet duo and trio, for two clarinets and bassoon and for string quartet. There are 41 pieces on this CD, the longest being the Kyrie KV 89, though in reality this is a sequence of 3 canons. The majority of the pieces last two minutes or less and despite their varied nature, I am not sure that I would want to listen to the entire CD at one sitting. The young choir makes a fine, clean sound and they are aptly complemented by the wind and string soloists.

You cannot help feeling that Brilliant have used this volume of the Mozart Edition to tidy up various unrelated loose ends. It is helpful having the Idomeneo ballet music in the same volume as the opera. But I am not entirely convinced that many people will be enthusiastic about all the different discs in this set. However, at super bargain price you could take a risk and you might discover something.

Robert Hugill



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