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Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Operatic and Concert Arias - Margaret Price
Operatic Arias:-
La clemenza di Tito, K.621, Act I: Parto, parto
Le nozze di Figaro, K492, Act 2.Voi che sapete; Act 3 E Susanna non vien! Dove sono; Act 4. Giunse alfin il momento. Deh vieni, non tardar
Die Entführung aus dem Serail, K.384, No. 11: Martern allerArten
Il re pastore, K.208, Act 3 L'amero, saro costante
Don Giovanni, K.527 Act 2. In quali eccessi. Mi tradi. Crudele? Non mi dir
Idomeneo, K.366. Act 2. Idol mio
Concert Arias: Bella mia fiamma; Resta, o cara, K.528; Vado, ma dove? K.583; Vorrei spiegarvi, o Dio! K.418
Margaret Price (sop)
English Chamber Orchestra; London Philharmonic Orchestra/James Lockhart
Recorded Abbey Road Studio 1, London, February 1973 and Conway Hall, London, March 1974. DDD
BMG-RCA RED SEAL 82876 65841-2 [78.06]



The Welsh-born soprano Margaret Price (b. 1921) made her operatic debut for her National Company in 1962 as Cherubino. It was her calling card at Covent Garden the following year. There she later sang the Mozart roles of Pamina, Donna Anna, Countess Almaviva and Fiordiligi. At Glyndebourne, 1968-1972, she sang Constanze and Fiordiligi, reverting to Pamina for her American debut at San Francisco in 1969. In the 1970s Margaret Price sang Mozart in Paris and the major German-speaking houses. She did not however, make her Met debut until 1985 when her Countess Almaviva sounded, and looked, a little matronly. At the period of this recording Mozart was the mainstay of her repertoire. This issue catches her vocal skills in the composer’s work at its peak, her silvery yet rich tone encompassing the varied demands with aplomb.

The disc features Margaret Price in all three of the major soprano roles that Mozart wrote for Figaro. She may have lost something of the young buck that is Cherubino of her portrayal in her earlier years in Voi che sapete (tr. 10). Any slight limitations are more than compensated for in her rendering of Susana’s Deh vieni, non tardar (tr. 3) with its delightfully floated sotto voce singing. At this stage of her development Miss Price’s Countess Almaviva is young and silvery toned as she laments the behaviour of her husband in Dove sono (tr. 5). Her Martern aller Arten is sung with careful skill and musicality and without any harshness in the high tessitura found on some recordings by other divas (tr. 6). Perhaps the most consummate singing and characterisation are to be heard in her Mi tradi (tr. 9). I would very much have liked to have heard her Pier pieta from Cosi fan tutte rather than the included Non mi dir (tr. 13). The latter accentuates the undoubted weakness in Margaret Price’s singing, the tendency to soften the consonants at the expense of diction.

In the concert arias Margaret Price seems stretched in Bella mia fiamma (tr. 14) finding better form in Vado, ma dove (tr. 16), the words written by Da Ponte in 1787, the year of the composition of Don Giovanni. Sir Georg Solti, for whom she recorded Donna Anna, tempted her towards the heavier Verdi lyric roles, at least in the studio, and under his baton she recorded Desdemona in Otello and Amelia in Un Ballo in Maschera. Perhaps significantly, Solti did not find a role for her in his starry cast Figaro of 1982. More surprisingly she recorded a radiant heroine in Tristan and Isolde in Carlos Kleiber’s lyric view of the work. In contrast Solti had cast the big-voiced and dramatic Birgit Nilsson, his Brünnhilde, as Isolde, a very different voice. Margaret Price retired from opera performances in 1994 but continued to give recitals until 1999.

Although Ms Price’s repertoire extended beyond Mozart it is via her singing of his works that she is best known and remembered. This well balanced and clear recording catches her in good voice and provides an ideal memento of an admired singer who recorded far too few of the roles represented here in complete performances. The experienced opera conductor James Lockhart is a sympathetic and supportive colleague. The booklet gives the context of the roles and also the words with English translation. Various sopranos have recorded similar collections. Caught early in the decade of her best singing this disc is an excellent representation of Margaret Price’s highly accomplished vocal skills in repertoire which she loved and which was widely loved by audiences.

Robert J Farr



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