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Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Operatic Arias: Don Giovanni, K 527: Il mio tesoro; Dalla sua pace; Die Entführung, K 384: Hier soll ich dich denn sehen; Wenn der Freude; Konstanze! Konstanze;  Dich wiederzusehe;  Ich baue ganz auf deine Stärke; Die Zauberflöte, K 620: Dies Bildnis; Wie stark ist nicht dein Zauberton; Cosi fan tutte, K 588: Un aura amorosa; Ah lo veggio, quell’anima  bella; In quell fiero contrasto ... Tradito, schemito dal perfida cor; Idomeneo, K 366: Fuor del mar ho un mar in seno
Stuart Burrows (tenor)
London Philharmonic Orchestra/Sir John Pritchard
London Symphony Orchestra/Sir John Pritchard
rec. 1975. No venue given. ADD
The lyric tenor Stuart Burrows (b. 1933) was born in the small coal-mining village of Cilfynydd just north of the town of Pontypridd in South Wales. By some quirk of coincidence he was born, eleven years later to the month, in the same street as another illustrious Welsh singer, the lyric baritone Sir Geraint Evans. Life in such mining villages in that period was harsh and earning a living as a coal miner involved appalling working conditions as well as significant dangers. Such harsh living fostered community camaraderie as well as a shared work purpose and concern for safety. This camaraderie extended to a rich cultural life associated with the local miners club and the Chapel, both having a proud choral tradition. Every miner hoped his son would not have to follow him down the pit and education was gloried in a manner long forgotten in what are now too often culturally deprived backwaters. The role of the teacher was held in high esteem and was also seen as a reachable aspiration. It was possible for a bright lad to afford to train as a teacher in the immediate post Second World War period whatever his social origins and Stuart Burrows did so. He was also aware of his own vocal skills and he entered the singing competition at the Welsh National Eisteddfod in 1954, winning a major prize. This determined him to train his voice. He débuted with the Welsh National Opera in 1963 and rapidly went on to Covent Garden (1967), the Met (1971), Vienna, Paris and both the Easter and Summer Festivals at Salzburg as well as other major centres. Whilst his repertoire extends over the lyric tenor roles including Hoffmann, Rodolfo and Alfredo, it is in his singing of Mozart that he has excelled in the theatre and on record. I was lucky enough to see him as Ottavio in Don Giovanni, Tamino in Die Zauberflöte and the title part of La Clemenza di Tito, roles he also recorded with either Sir Georg Solti or Sir Colin Davis with whom he also recorded Belmonte in Die Entführung.
This recording covers both the roles he performs on complete recordings and, most importantly, Ferrando’s arias from Cosi fan tutte, which, as far as I am aware, he did not record commercially. It is not a compilation from the singer’s complete recordings but a bespoke recording first issued by Decca’s subsidiary Editions de L’Oiseau-Lyre on one LP. It catches Burrows in good expressive voice with characteristic purity of tone throughout the range, elegant phrasing and exemplary diction. These qualities are evident from the introductory il mio Tesoro where Burrows is able to translate Ottavio’s varied emotions with skill (tr. 1). Perhaps the following Dalla sua pace (tr. 2) is a better example of why his Mozart singing conquered the world. There is the distinctive honeyed mezza voce singing as he caresses the phrases and, metaphorically, his beloved Anna as he seeks to comfort her. The contrast of the voice from the more acrid tones of the first aria and its mood of revenge on Don Giovanni is pronounced with the singer adding bite and metal to his tone and enunciation of the text. His heady phrasing in Konstanze! Konstanze (tr. 5) as Belmonte yearns to hear his lover’s voice is full of expression and aspiration. I do not doubt that in complete recordings of these operas Burrows brought even more characterisation to his singing. It is a significant mark of his knowledge and experience of these roles that enables him to do so much with the words and phrases and provides such great enjoyment here.
In a recording of Mozart arias by the lovely-voiced Welsh soprano Margaret Price reissued in 2005, RCA managed to combine the contents of two LPs and give over seventy minutes of her singing at a comparable cost of this issue (see review). Here Decca seem to working on the principle of giving the least and charging as much as they can get. If a purchaser wishes to see the original LP liner it is necessary to go online and search for it, although the web reference is given. As it is, not even the recording venue is given although the names of the production team are. Despite the meagre fare, Burrows’ really lovely and well-characterised singing of these Mozart arias is a must-purchase for his fans, those of the composer and lovers of good singing.
Robert J. Farr





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