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Tutto Mozart! – Bryn Terfel
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756 – 1791)
Le nozze di Figaro: No. 10 Non più andrai, farfallone amoroso [3:44]; Io ti lascio, o cara, addio K. Anh. 245 (621a) [4:26]; Così fan tutte: No. 10 Soave sia il vento[2:51]¹²; Männer suchen stets zu naschen K 433 (416c) [2:14]; Così dunque tradisci … Aspri rimorsi atroci K 432 (421a) [4:01]; Così fan tutte: No. 23 V’adoro … Il core vi dono [4:47]²; Un bacio di mano K 541 [2:07]; Don Giovanni: No. 7 Quel casinetto è mio … Là ci darem la mano [3:16]¹; Die Zauberflöte: No. 20 Ein Mädchen oder Weibchen wünscht Papageno sich [4:07]; Le nozze di Figaro: No. 18 Hai già vinta la causa! … Vedrò, mentr’io sospiro [4:53]; Nun, liebes Weibchen, ziehst mit mir K 625 (592a) [2:32]¹; Die Zauberflöte: No. 2 Der Vogelfänger bin ich ja [2:44]; Le nozze di Figaro: No. 17 Crudel! perché finora farmi languir così? [2:48]¹; Don Giovanni: No. 16 Deh! Vieni alla finestra, o mio tesoro! [2:02]; Bastien und Bastienne: No. 10 Diggi, daggi, schurry, murry [1:28]; Die Zauberflöte: Nr 21 (exc) Pa-Pa-Pa-Pa-Papagena! [2:28]¹; Don Giovanni: No. 4 Guardate! Questo non piccol libro … Madamina, il catalogo è questo [5:48]; Die Zauberflöte: No. 7 Bei Männern, welche Liebe fühlen [3:04]¹; Le nozze di Figaro: No. 27 Tutto è disposto … Aprite un po [4:16]
Bryn Terfel (bass-baritone)
Miah Persson (soprano)¹, Christine Rice (mezzo)²
Scottish Chamber Orchestra/Sir Charles Mackerras
rec. Grand Hall, The City Halls, Glasgow, April 2006
DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 4775886 [63:36]
 


One of the first recordings where Bryn Terfel participated was Arnold Östman’s Don Giovanni where he was a characterful Masetto. That was in July 1989! Later he was promoted to both Leporello and Don himself. He was a tremendous Figaro for Gardiner and on his first opera recital with Levine and the Met orchestra he also sang arias from several Mozart operas. Clearly Mozart runs through his career. He is quoted as saying in Nick Kimberley’s liner notes: “I sang Mozart in most of my major debuts: at La Scala in Milan, the Metropolitan Opera in New York, at Covent Garden, and at both English and Welsh National Opera. Mozart really wrote well for the bass-baritone voice, which is purely my voice.”

Here now he is back with a full CD of arias, duets and a trio, from his signature roles. Here we have a number of “new” things, some of them real rarities. There has always been a compelling freshness about whatever Terfel has been singing. When he now revisits some of these arias which he must have known inside out for many years there is not a trace of routine. Moreover the voice is just as effortlessly produced and flexible as it was ten and more years ago.
 
Sir Charles Mackerras and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra provide the best possible accompaniments, lively and expressive and with excellent solo contributions, most prominently from the woodwind. Whether there is a thought behind the ordering of the numbers I haven’t been able to figure out. It seems random but for once I didn’t bother, since the playing and the singing was of such high order as to silence any complaints. The concept of a programme built around a great singer but with supporting artists as well is better than the traditional “straight” solo recital. Terfel is one of relatively few present-day artists who is versatile and expressive enough to carry the whole burden himself. The contrasting voices and duets mixed in among the arias give the recital an even broader appeal. Truth to tell, having finished my listening session I couldn’t resist the temptation to play it all over again instead of doing what I initially intended: taking out some of his earlier versions for comparison. I felt I didn’t need to. Whatever the differences they are not in the least quality-related …or rather: Terfel has set his own quality criteria and these new versions more than live up to them. There can be no better recommendation!
 
Looking at the individual numbers one must again marvel at the freshness and ease of the singing. Non più andrai sounds as if he sang it for the first time, rejoicing in the opportunity to mock poor Cherubin. When we come to track two it is quite possible that it was the first time – a farewell sung with great affection. Whether this is “real” Mozart is irrelevant – his wife suggested, long after his death, that he supplied only the string accompaniment while the vocal line was by his friend Gottfried von Jacquin. So affecting is the aria, supposedly from his last year, that Mozart would have been proud of it. A little gem!
 
Soave sia il vento the trio from Così fan tutte is a well-known highlight where Terfel as Don Alfonso in the main provides a discreet bass line behind the two ladies, who blend wonderfully.
 
The unfinished Männer suchen stets zu naschen is better-known as the song Warnung, which I learnt ages ago through a recording by Irmgard Seefried. I played it again and was totally charmed by her lightness and word-pointing. Hearing a bass-baritone in the same music, with orchestra as well, is a quite different experience, but Terfel is also an excellent word-pointer.
 
The dramatic insert aria Aspri rimorsi atroci, written for Ludwig Fischer, the first Osmin, is a perfect vehicle for our hero, revelling in opportunities to characterise and show off some black low notes as well as his brilliant top.
 
Il core vi dono, including the preceding recitative, shows him at his most honeyedly seductive while Christine Rice is just as attractive a Dorabella. She was a fine Annio on Mackerras’s recent La clemenza di Tito and is even better here.
 
The arietta Un bacio di mano, inserted in Anfossi’s opera Le gelosie fortunate, has initially an accompaniment reminiscent of the Papageno-Papagena duet.
 
The Don Giovanni-Zerlina duet again shows the seducer, irresistibly caressing the phrases, and who can resist? Certainly not Miah Persson, who responds in the same manner and since we know the continuation of the story we can only be grateful that Donna Elvira is soon to appear and save the innocent peasant girl from the libertine. All through the recital Miah Persson confirms the impression of her very successful Mozart recital on BIS (see review) which was a Recording of the Month.
 
Terfel’s Papageno, a role that he hasn’t done on stage, is momentarily so sophisticated that one loses sight of the “Naturmensch”, but the next moment he is just as “eyes-wide-open” naïve as he should be. And of course, when he sings his second aria Ein Mädchen oder Weibchen, Papageno has already seen so much of the cruel world that his manners have become a bit more “civilized” while Der Vogelfänger, which is our first acquaintance with him is carefree, light and open-airy. As the Count in Le nozze di Figaro he rages with snarling venom – a tortured aristocrat not to be taken lightly – actually a refined upper-class person who shows his feeling in a primitive “Naturmensch” manner. His duet with Susanna shows him more as the rutting but socially superior squire while Miah Persson turns in another lovely and knowing performance as Susanna; a complement to the aria on her own recital.
 
A cute oddity is the duet by Benedikt Schack, orchestrated by Mozart with Terfel depicting Lubano’s growing irritation with Lubana’s miaowing. “The devil take your caterwauling”, he exclaims. But Miah Persson persists in her “Miaow, miaow!” – an inspiration, maybe, to Rossini and his Cat Duet – if he knew Mozart’s opera.
 
Don Giovanni’s serenade can be sung in many different ways. Some singers deliver a honeyed mezza-voce straight through; Terfel inflects the text with some pointing of words, sometimes distorting the line ever so slightly but giving more character to the libertine. Colas’s little aria from Bastien und Bastienne with its nonsense text explores his booming lower register while, back to Die Zauberflöte and Papageno, the two duets are as lovely as they could be in their respective ways, bubbling with joy in the Papagena scene and full of emotion in the Pamina duet. In between these he is an expressive Leporello, now honeyed, now boisterous, in the Catalogue aria. He rounds off the recital with a rendering of Figaro’s fourth act aria full of character and gloriously sung.
 
With its mix of standard fare and rarities, all executed at the highest possible level, this is as good a Mozart recital as any and all lovers of singing should hasten to get it.
 
Göran Forsling
 

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