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Brilliant Classics

Mozart Edition Volume 24 – Concert Arias and Songs
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756 - 1791)
Francine van der Heyden (soprano) (1)
Miranda van Kralingen (soprano) (2)
Annemarie Kremer (soprano) (5)
Christiane Oelze (soprano) (7)
Sylvia Gestzy (soprano) (8)
Claron McFadden (Soprano) (10)
Caroline Vitale (mezzo soprano) (6)
Marcel Reijans (tenor) (3, 6)
Ezio Maria Tisi (bass) (4,6)
Christian Tchelebiev (bass) (6)
Bas Ramselaar (bass/baritone) (9)
Bart van Oort (fortepiano) (9, 10)
European Sinfonietta/Ed Spanjaard (1,2)
European Chamber Orchestra/Wilhelm Keitel (3,4,5,6)
Kammerorchester Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach/Hartmut Haenchen (7)
Staatskapelle Dresden/Otmar Suitner (8)
Recorded August 2002, Nieuwe Kerk, The Hague (1,2); June 2002 Theater Bayreuth, Germany (3,4,5,6); March 1993, Jesus Christuskirche Berlin (7); April 1970, Lukaskirche Dresden (8); 28-29 November 2001, Doopsgeziinde Remonstrantse Kerk, Deventer (9); 13-14 May 2002, Doopsgeziinde Remonstrantse Kerk, Deventer (10)
BRILLIANT CLASSICS 99731 [8 CDs: 49.30 + 64.39 + 47.11 + 55.10 + 60.20 + 47.39 + 54.49 + 47.53]

Der Liebe himmlisches Gefühl, KV 199 (1)
Vorrei spiegarvi, oh Dio, KV 418 (1)
Cara, se le mie pene, KV deest (1)
Se tutti i mali miei, KV 83 (1)
Alcandro, lo confesso...Non so d’onde viene, KV 294 (1)
Se ardire, e speranza, KV 82 (1)
Ah, spiegardi, oh Dio, KV 178 (1)
Ch’io mi scordi di te...Non temer, amato bene, KV505 (2)
Alma grande e nobil core, KV 578 (2)
A questo seno...Or che il cielo KV 374 (2)
Basta vincesti…Ah, no lasciarmi KV 486a (295a) (2)
Al desio, di chi t’adora KV 577 (2)
Conservati fedele, KV 23 (2)
Voi avete un cor fedle, KV 217 (2)
Misero mi…Misero pargoletto, KV 77 (2)
Nehmt menen Dank, KV 383 (2)
Va, dal furor portata KV 21 (19c) (3)
Or che il dover…Tali e contanti sono, KV 36 (33i) (3)
Si mostra la sorte, KV 209 (3)
Con ossequio, con rispetto, KV 210 (3)
Clarice cara mia sposa, KV 256 (3)
Se al labbro mio no credi, KV 295 (3)
Per pieta, non ricercate, KV 420 (3)
Misero! o sogno…Aura, ceh intorno spiri KV 431 (3)
Io ti lascio, KV Anh 245 (4)
Così dunque tradisci…Aspri rimorsi atroci, KV 432 (421a) (6)
Dite almeno in che mancai, KV 479 (6)
Mandina amabile, KV 480 (4)
Alcandro, lo confesso…Non sò, d’onde viene, KV 512 (4)
Mentre ti lascio, KV 513 (4)
Ich möchte wohl den Kaiser sein, KV 539 (4)
Un bacio di mano, KV 541 (4)
Per questa bella mano, KV 612 (4)
Popoli di Tessaglia KV 316 (5)
Ah se in ciel, benigne stele, KV 538 (7)
Chi sa, chi sa, qual sia, KV 581 (7)
Vado, ma dove? Oh Dei! KV 583 (7)
Chi’io mi scordi di te, KV 490 (7)
Per pieta, bell’idol mio KV 78 (7)
Oh, temeraria Arbace KV 79 (7)
Bella mia fiamma, addio .. Resta, oh cara, KV 528 (7)
Ah, lo previdi KV 272 (7)
Misera, dove son KV 369 (7)
Mia speranza adorata! – Ah, non sai, qual pena sia il doverti, KV 416 (8)
Non curo l’affetto, KV 74b (8)
Fra cento affanni, KV 88 (8)
A Berenice – Sol nascente KV 70 (8)
Ma, che vi fece, o stelle KV 368 (8)
No, no, che non sei capace, KV 419 (8)
An die Freude, KV 53 (9)
Auf die feierliche Johannisloge, KV 148 (9)
Dans un bois solitaire, KV 308 (9)
Die Zufriedenheit, KV 349 (9)
Sei du mein Trost, KV 391 (9)
Lied zur Gesellenreise, KV 468 (9)
Die Zufriedenheit, KV 473 (9)
Die betrogene Welt, KV 474 (9)
Lied der Freiheit, KV 506 (9)
Zwei deutsche Kirchenlieder, KV 343 (9)
Die Verschweigung, KV 518 (9)
Das Lied der Trennung, KV 519 (9)
Abendempfindung an Laura, KV 523 (9)
An Chloe, KV 524 (9)
Das Traumbild, KV 530 (9)
Lied beim Auszug in das Feld, KV 552 (9)
Oiseaux, si tous les ans, KV 307 (10)
Dans un bois solitaire, KV 308 (10)
Wie unglücklich bin ich nit, KV 147 (10)
Ich wurd’ auf meinem Pfad, KV 390 (10)
Verdankt sei es dem Glanz der GroBen, KV 392 (10)
Der Zauberer, KV 472 (10)
Das Veilchen, KV 476 (10)
Die Alte, KV 517 (10)
Als Luise die Briefe ihres ungetreuen Liebhabers verbrannte, KV 520 (10)
Abendempfindung an Laura, KV 523 (10)
Des kleinen Friedrichs Geburtstag, KV 529 (10)
Die kleine Spinnerin, KV 531 (10)
Sehnsucht nach dem Frühlinge, KV 596 (10)
Der Frühling, KV 597 (10)
Das Kinderspiel, KV 598 (10)
Ridente la calma, KV 152 (10)

Calling this set from Brilliant’s Mozart Edition, ‘Concert Arias’, is perhaps a little misleading. Some of the arias were written for concert use, but many of them were written as additions or replacement arias for operas by other composers. A standard practice in the 18th century was for a local composer to customise operatic revivals to suit the particular cast.

Brilliant have eschewed historical ordering and each disc consists of a mixed recital by a different artist. One of the charms of listening to these extra arias is our ability learn more about the singers that Mozart worked with. Many of the items were written for particular singers who are known to us for their work in one of Mozart’s major works, so providing us with an extra glimpse of Mozart’s view of their voice. A special case is his sister-in-law Aloysia Weber (Aloysia Lange after her marriage). Mozart wrote a substantial number of pieces for this highly gifted singer and they thread their way throughout the first six discs of this set, providing a fascinating challenge to each of the singers.

The first disc is sung by soprano Francine van der Heyden. She has a smallish bright voice and displays good coloratura and passagework. Her silvery voice comes under some tension in the higher register and I would have liked a little more warmth and expression in the voice. The recital opens with the charming ‘Der Liebe himmlisches Gefühl’ dates from 1782 so it is a mature work, but the authentic score is lacking and it survives only in a keyboard reduction. ‘Vorrei spiegarvi, oh Dio’, from the following year, is utterly more demanding on the singer. Written for Aloysia Weber, Mozart’s highly talented sister-in-law, for insertion into Anfossi’s ‘Il curioso indiscreto’ at the Vienna Burg Theater, the vocal line lies extremely high; van der Heyden copes well with this stratospheric tessitura, but she does not really do a lot with the music. This disc includes one further aria written for Weber in 1778, a setting of a text by Metastasio written for Mannheim, though this one is perhaps not quite as demanding.

The second disc, sung by soprano Miranda van Kralingen, begins with one of Mozart’s best known concert arias, ‘Ch’io mi scordi di te’ with van Kralingen being joined by an unnamed pianist with a delicate touch. The aria was written for Nancy Storace, who had been the first Susanna in ‘Nozze de Figaro’, and she performed it at her Vienna farewell concert in 1786. Storace was famous, not so much for the purity of her tone as for her intelligence and vivacity. Miranda van Kralingen sings with style, and her voice has a richness and variety combined with dramatic sense lacking in Francine van der Heyden’s performances. Van Kralingen’s voice has an attractive but pronounced vibrato and is inclined to become unsteady in the upper register; something which mars a number of her other performances on this disc. ‘Basta vincesti’, a setting of a text by Metastasio, is inspired by an aria by Galuppi and was written in 1778 for the leading Mannheim soprano, Dorothea Wendling; Mozart admired her singing greatly. ‘Al desio, di chi t’adora’, to a possible text by Da Ponte, was written in 1789 for A Ferraresi del Beni to sing in a performance of ‘La Nozze di Figaro’ in Vienna. It is a charming rondo with significant parts for 2 basset horns. Miranda van Kralingen gives it a sophisticated, fragile performance, but though her passage work is acceptable I would have liked a greater sense of line. In ‘Voi avete un cor fedle’ the inherent instability in van Kralingen’s voice rather comes to the fore and mars the performance. ‘Misero mi’ was written in 1770 for Milan using a text by Metastasio. It opens with a very fine, long accompanied recitative which van Kralingen performs in dramatic fashion, but the aria is rather understated with hints of unsteadiness creeping into the voice. The final aria on the disc, ’Nehmt menen Dank’, again written for Aloysia Weber in 1782, is a charming, German language piece with hints of singspiel.

The third disc is sung by the tenor Marcel Reijans. Reijans voice is bright and his diction is good, but there is a tight intensity to his voice which makes it not always ideal for this repertoire. The charming early aria, ‘Va, dal furor portata’ was written for London in 1765 to a text by Metastasio. Reijans gives a vigorous performance with some fine passagework. ‘Or che il dover’ dates from a year later and was written for the anniversary of Archbishop Sigismond’s consecration in Salzburg and it receives a lively, vivid performance. But with ‘Si mostra la sorte’, which was written for Salzburg in 1775 we reach the later, lyrical Mozart and I would prefer a more relaxed tone than Reijans seems to be able to give. The following two arias are both buffo arias written for Salzburg in the mid-1770s, the second, ‘Clarice cara mia sposa’ was a replacement for an aria in Picini’s ‘L’Astratto’ Here Reijans gives fine, idiomatic performances and the arias suit his voice well. The next piece, ‘Se al labbro mio no credi’ was written in 1778 for Anton Raaff, the leading tenor at the Mannheim court theatre. Mozart tried to win his favour by composing this setting of one of his favourite texts, taken from Hasse’s ‘Artaserse’. (Raaff’s last major role would be ‘Idomeneo’, after the Mannheim court had moved to Munich.) Reijan’s gives a shapely, stylish performance of this lyrical piece, without ever managing to produce the relaxed tone it really needs. The final two arias on this disc, ‘Per pieta, non ricercate’ and ‘Misero! o sogno’ were written in 1783 in Vienna for J.V. Adamberger, a member of the Singspiel and Italian companies at the Court Theatre. His voice was admired for its pliancy, agility and precision and Mozart wrote the role of Belmonte for him. Reijans is happiest in the dramatic accompanied recitative and these lyrical arias tax him a little. His performances are reasonably stylish, but his voice style just does not really match music that was written for the original singer of Belmonte.

The fourth disc is devoted to bass arias sung by the Italian, Ezio Maria Tisi. He gives a vividly urgent account of ‘Così dunque tradisci’, with its lovely wind parts; it was written in Vienna in 1782. Like a number of arias on the disc, this aria enables the bass to display his fine low register. His voice is a little grainy, but he has a fine sense of line. In the later, ‘Non sò, d’onde viene’ from 1787, Mozart gives the singer large leaps and contrasts the extreme registers. Tisi performs these feats with aplomb, but his passage work does have a tendency to be laboured. Two arias, ‘Mentre ti lascio’ and ‘Un bacio di mano’ sound as if they were written for a lighter, lyric voice and highlight the hint of unsteadiness in Tisi’s upper register. ‘Un bacio di mano’ was written for the Italian bass Francesco Albertarelli who was a member of the Vienna Burg Theater in the 1788/89 season. Tisi sounds rather more comfortable in ‘Ich möchte wohl den Kaiser sein’ with its Turkish percussion and jolly, Osmin-like vocal line.

In ‘Per questa bella mano’, written in 1791 for the first Sarastro, Tisi is joined by a concertante double-bass in a lovely lyrical work which again shows off the bass’s low notes. For two items which Mozart wrote in 1785 for performances at the Burg Theater of Bianchi’s opera ‘La Villanella Rapita’, Tisi is joined by a group of singers to perform a charming quartet and trio.

The final item on the disc is rather a surprise. A setting of a text from Calzabagi’s ‘Alceste’, ‘Popoli di Tessaglia’ was written in 1778 for Aloysia Weber and is sung here by soprano Annemarie Kremer. Like much else that Mozart wrote for Weber, this aria has a stupendous range. Kremer copes well, but her tone is apt to get a bit steely and ragged when the notes become stratospheric.

This disc is attractive principally because of the virtues of Tisi’s performance; singing in his native language he is a highly communicative singer and makes you wish that Mozart had written more bass arias.

The fifth disc proves to be one of the highlights of the set. It is a recital, originally issued in 1993, by Christiane Oelze. She opens with ’Ah se in ciel, benigne stele’ which was written in 1788 for Aloysia Weber. Oelze’s voice has a stunning crystalline purity and her coloratura is not only fluent and fluid, but well integrated into the aria. She sings the vocal line lightly and the virtuoso sections with ease. Reading descriptions of Weber’s voice, this is the type of performance that we can imagine her giving. This is followed by a pair of arias (’Chi sa, chi sa, qual sia’ and ’Vado, ma dove? Oh Dei! ’) written for a Martin y Soler opera at the Burg Theater, with words by Da Ponte. They are given charming renditions by Oelze and her vocal quality is stunning. But these are operatic arias, and I began to wish she would give more characterisation and make more of the words, something which also applies to the early ’Per pieta, bell’idol mio’ with its lovely coloratura.

‘Ch’io mi scordi te?’ was composed for the 1786 Vienna performance of ’Idomeneo’ and makes a fascinating contrast to the later concert aria with piano obbligato which featured on the second disc in the set. This version is a substantial sequence of dramatic recitative and aria with a lovely solo violin. Here, and in the last 4 arias on the disc, Oelze does make more of the drama especially in the dramatic recitatives. In the early (1766) ’Oh, temeraria Arbace’ the recitative is followed by a charming, lyrical aria. But this is followed by two items written for Josefa Dusek, the wife of composer Frantizek Dusek; Mozart accompanied her in concerts. ’Bella mia fiamma, addio’ and ’Ah, lo previdi’ are both substantial works the latter almost a sequence of recitatives and arias. Here Oelze does shape the drama more, and her expressive singing is very winning.

The final item on the disc dates from Munich in 1781; ’Misera, dove son!’ and is a showpiece which allows the soprano to show of her upper register with a couple of impressive leaps; a challenge that Oelze does not fail.

Despite my strictures about the lack of drama and dramatic context in some of these pieces, I could not help but be charmed by the sheer pleasure of Oelze’s singing. Many of these pieces were written for virtuoso singers of the highest calibre and today we have to balance good points and bad points in performance. But for Oelze, no allowance needs to be made.

The final disc of concert arias is a reissue of a 1970 recital by the Hungarian coloratura soprano Sylvia Geszty. She opens with ‘Mia speranza adorata!’ which was written for Aloysia Weber in Vienna in 1783. Apparently for concert use, Geszty invests it with all the drama of an operatic scene. This is the clue to Geszty’s talents as she integrates stunning coloratura into the drama behind the words and music. Her voice is a trifle richer and her coloratura rather more robust than Oelze’s; her way with the drama of the piece is superb. As with the other pieces written for his sister-in-law, ‘Mia speranza adorata!’ has a wide range and Geszty is fully equal to the high notes.

She follows this by two arias to Metastasio texts written in Milan in 1770/71. Both are virtuoso display pieces, complete with cadenzas and Geszty performs them in fine style. She is also on good form in another virtuoso early piece, ‘A Berenice’, dates from 1766 (when Mozart was 10!) and is a substantial dramatic recitative and Da Capo aria. The Metastasio setting ’Ma, che vi fece, o stelle’ dates from 1776 and is closer to mature Mozart with the coloratura more dramatic in nature, something which Geszty relishes.

The final aria is another one written for Aloysia Weber to sing in Anfossi’s ‘Il curioso indiscreto’ at the Vienna Burg Theater in 1783. Its companion was sung by Francine van der Heyden on the first disc. Geszty’s voice is occasionally a little steely in the upper reaches, but the coloratura remains spectacular. You can’t help feeling that, with Aloysia Weber singing these two show-stopping arias, Mozart must have rather hijacked the performances of Anfossi’s opera.

The orchestras on all these discs provide capable and ample support. The first 4 discs use chamber orchestras with quite lean textures, their conductors keeps the speeds reasonably brisk but without every hurrying. On the 5th disc, Sylvia Geszty is supported by the Dresden Staatskapelle, with its rather more well-upholstered string section. Speeds are still on the reasonable side and all eyes (or rather ears) are on Geszty’s spectacular vocal agility.

The final two discs are devoted to a survey of Mozart’s songs, divided between the soprano Claron McFadden and the bass baritone, Bas Ramselaar; both accompanied on the fortepiano by Bart van Oort. Ramselaar seems to be something of a house bass with Brilliant as he recorded all the bass solos in their complete Bach cantatas, issued on a stupendous sixty CDs.

Mozart’s songs form a more intimate, easily overlooked part of his output, but he worked on songs throughout his career. The earliest on these discs dates from 1768 (when he was 12), the latest from the year of his death. It is perhaps significant that for these works we change language, from Italian to Mozart’s native German.

Ramselaar opens with the earliest song, ‘An die Freude’, a charming piece premiered in Vienna in 1768. It has more than a passing resemblance to the Benedictus from Mozart’s Wasenhause Messe which was premiered the same month. Ramselaar displays a fine, dark lyric voice, warm and rich with a good sense of line. Though his diction is excellent, I liked him to make more of the words. In these early strophic songs he seems to be content to think that less is more, a principle I applaud, but that does not quite work here. This same problem applies to a number of the earlier songs on the disc, such as the Masonic ‘Auf die feierliche Johannisloge’, ‘Lied zur Gesellenreise’ and ‘Die Zufriedenheit, KV349’. This latter, written in Vienna in 1780, has little sense of any dramatic narrative. But Ramselaar’s performances are still notable; all have a fine sense of line and great beauty of tone. In a song like the more complex, but still strophic, ‘An die Einsamkeit’ these qualities make a bit impression

In ‘Dans un bois’, one of a pair of songs written in Mannheim for Dorothea Wendling, Ramselaar does make something of the drama in the song, but his dark tones are not ideal for this French language song.

In ‘Die Zufriedenheit, KV 473’, he indulges in rather more characterisation and in ‘Die betrogene Welt’ there is a good sense of the narrative drama of the piece. This is also the case with ‘Lied der Freiheit’ with its rather male oriented, anti-women text by a Viennese satirist.

In its full version, ’Das Lied der Trennung’ has 18 verses, the first 15 of which are strophic, but Ramselaar gives us just 7. Based on the text alone, it would be easy to dismiss the song, but Mozart imbues it with all sophistication and the qualities of loneliness that evoke the spirit of Pamina. Ramselaar and van Ort do the music justice and give a fine performance. This is followed by another more sophisticated song, with a lovely sighing piano part, ‘Abendempfindung’; in such pieces Ramselaar’s beautiful line comes into its own, but here he is does bring out the nuances within the text. These later songs, ‘Abendempfindung’ and ‘An Chloe’ both date from 1787, are much more fully developed with complex piano accompaniment which brings out the best in the performers. And in ‘Das Traumbild’ Ramselaar does give us a good feeling for the dramatic narrative within the piece.

On the second disc, all the songs are sung by Claron McFadden. A soprano with a expressive, complex, smoky voice and wide experience in Baroque and coloratura repertoire.

‘Oiseaux, si tous les ans’ and ‘Dans un bois solitaire’ were both written for Dorothea Wendling in Mannheim and McFadden gives them a performance which brings out their Parisian perfume.

Like Ramselaar, McFadden thinks that less is more so that in ‘Wie unglücklich bin ich nit’ (1775), ‘Ich wurd’ auf meinem Pfad’ (1781) and ‘Verdankt sei es dem Glanz der Grossen’ (1781) she sings with stunning clarity and sense of line, but I felt that dramatic narrative was lacking in these simple strophic songs.

In ’Der Zauberer’ written in Vienna in 1785, with its histrionic piano part, McFadden gives more sense of the narrative of the poem, though she could have been more dramatic. ‘Das Veilchen’, from the same year, is the sad tale of a violet crushed to death by the foot of the shepherdess whose bosom it longed to adorn. Here McFadden is charming and well characterised in a song which is rather sophisticated and not strophic.

The next five songs all date from 1781. ‘Die Alte’ is directed ‘to sung a little through the nose’, but McFadden rather plays it straight. ‘Als Luise die Briefe ihres ungetreuen Liebhabers verbrannte’ is a short, dramatic sendup of opera seria conventions with a stormy, fantasia-like piano part and McFadden and van Ort make the most of it. ‘Abendempfindung an Laura’ receives a lyrical and thoughtful performance entirely worthy of this lovely song. ‘Des kleinen Friedrichs Geburtstag’ was composed for the birthday of an aristocrat and written for inclusion in a periodical aimed at the young. It is a charming piece, definitely a cut above ordinary music for children. ‘Die kleine Spinnerin’ was also written for a children’s periodical. McFadden’s performance is musical but lacking a little in characterisation, you don’t feel that she is telling a story.

From Mozart’s final year, 1791, there are three songs. Two, ‘Sehnsucht nach dem Frühlinge’ and ’Der Frühling’, look forward yearningly to spring. In the first Mozart uses a melody borrowed from Telemann’s ‘The Seasons’ to remarkably folky effect. McFadden gives charming account of this lyrical but highly developed song. ’Der Frühling’ receives a calm and thoughtful performance. Finally, ‘Das Kinderspiel’, which is directed to be played cheerfully. But McFadden does not end with this last song, but completes things with ‘Ridente le calma’ from 1775. This may not even be by Mozart; one source suggest that it is his arrangement of an aria by J. Mysliveček. Whoever wrote it, it makes a fitting end to a fine recital.

On both these discs, Bart van Oort gives discreet but firm support on the forte-piano, relishing his occasional chances to shine.

I cannot recommend this box set too highly; at super-budget price it is an ideal way to explore the highways and byways of Mozart’s genius. This repertoire is not necessarily high profile but it does shed valuable light on both Mozart’s larger scale works and his performers. Here Brilliant have assembled performances which are never less than creditable and sometimes far more than that. The discs come without programme notes but with complete texts in the original language only, so if you want to explore this fascinating repertoire you will have to do some research; which is perhaps no bad thing.

Robert Hugill

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