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Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756 – 1791)
A Mozart Opera Festival

Le nozze di Figaro, KV 492: 1. Cosa sento! tosto andate (act I) – 2. Non più andrai (act I) – 3. Voi che sapete (act II) – 4. Crudel! perchè finora farmi languir così? (act III) – 5. Giunse alfin il momento ... Deh vieni, non tardar (act IV)
Die Entführung aus dem Serail, KV 384: 6. Konstanze, dich wiederzusehen ... O wie ängstlich, o wie feurig (act I) – 7. Vivat Bacchus! Bacchus lebe! (act II) – 8. In Mohrenland gefangen war (act III) – 9. O, wie will ich triumphieren (act III)
Die Zauberflöte, KV 620: 10. Der Vogelfänger bin ich ja (act I) – 11. Dies Bildnis ist bezaubernd schön (act I) – 12. Bei Männern, welche Liebe fühlen
Zaide, KV 344: 13. Ruhe, sanft, mein holdes Leben (act I)
Così fan tutte, KV 588: 14. Soave sia il vento (act I) – 15. Un’aura amorosa (act I) – 16. Il cor vi dono (act II)
Il re pastore, KV 208: 17. L’amerò, sarò costante (act II)
Don Giovanni, KV 527: 18. Là ci darem la mano (act I) – 19. Finch’han dal vino (act I)
Lucia Popp (soprano) (1, 4, 12, 13, 14, 17, 18), Brigitte Fassbaender (mezzo-soprano) (3, 14, 16), Werner Krenn (tenor) (1, 6, 7, 8, 11, 15), Tom Krause (baritone) (1, 2, 4, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, 19), Manfred Jungwirth (bass) (7, 9), Wiener Haydn-Orchester/István Kertész
Recorded in the Sofiensaal, Vienna, October 1971
DECCA ELOQUENCE 476 7437 [71:25]

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This fine Mozart festival, recorded all but 35 years ago, originally appeared on a 2 LP set, which also included a number of overtures. The reissue contains all the vocal items, presented in the original order, while the overtures can be found on another Decca Eloquence (476 4703). The concept is a good one, with some arias, duets and trios performed in the order in which they appear within each of the five "great" Mozart operas. Added to this are two of the most delightful soprano arias from the early operas.

With an orchestra steeped in the Viennese tradition, conducted by one of the leading young conductors of the day and five excellent young singers completely at home in Mozart, this compilation has much to offer. Of the singers Manfred Jungwirth is probably the least well-known today. This Vienna-born bass was almost fifty when he appeared as a commanding Baron Ochs on Georg Solti’s epoch-making Rosenkavalier recording, released in the autumn of 1969. A good Ochs should also be a good Osmin in Die Entführung. Jungwirth characterizes him well and has impressive black low notes (track 9). Brigitte Fassbaender, early in her career, is not as expressive as she became later on – her Cherubino (track 3) is a bit anonymous but as pure singing it is hard to beat. She feels more at home as Dorabella in Così fan tutte (tracks 14, 16), a role that she also recorded complete for Karl Böhm (DG) a few years later.

Werner Krenn was probably the best Mozart tenor in the wake of Fritz Wunderlich, whose voice and feeling for style his own resemble. He gives a beautiful and suitably impassioned reading of Belmonte’s aria from Die Entführung (track 6), although his runs are smudgy. When he changes character to Pedrillo he is lively and actually has more edge in his voice in the drinking duet (track 7). He sings Pedrillo’s serenade (track 8) in a subdued voice – and very beautifully, just as it should be. The Bildnis-aria from Die Zauberflöte (track 11) and Ferrando’s aria from Così (track 15) are further evidence of his prowess as a Mozart singer.

Tom Krause, the Finnish baritone, is allotted no less than nine items in this festival, and he is in magnificent voice. Few baritones can match him in tonal beauty and in total command of the voice. His is absolutely even from top to bottom and evinces not a trace of strain. If there is any criticism it may be that he is at times too full-throated. I think he could have scaled down his voice more in the Don Giovanni duet (track 18). If he had this would have made his Don even more seductive. On the other hand his Champagne aria (track 19) literally bubbles with high spirits. Also he doesn’t differentiate much between the characters – his Count Almaviva and his Figaro are very much the same person. That said, he does lighten his voice for Papageno and Der Naturmensch. His Guglielmo, a part that he also recorded complete with Solti, has an added warmth that calls to mind Erich Kunz in the same role (track 16).

Partnering Krause in several numbers and singing three arias of her own is Lucia Popp, one of the loveliest lyrical sopranos in her – or any – generation. She is a pert Susanna in the opening trio. In the duet with Krause (track 4), sometimes a little edgy, but she is wonderful in the so-called Rose aria (track 5), so beautiful of tone, so full of insight, so warm. Her Pamina (track 12) is light and silvery and the Zaide aria (track 13) and the one from Il re pastore (track 17) are classic examples of sensitive Mozart singing. It almost goes without saying that she is a natural for the role of Zerlina (track 18).

At superbudget price you can’t expect to get the sung texts, but Vincent Ciccarello’s essay is a good read and most listeners will know this music anyway. As a varied program, well recorded and with five of the best Mozart singers of their generation this reissue can be confidently recommended.

Göran Forsling
As a varied program, well recorded and with five of the best Mozart singers of their generation this reissue can be confidently recommended. ... see Full Review

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