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Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756–1791)
Donna - Opera and Concert Arias
Mitridate, rè di Ponto
1. Al destin che la minaccia [6:05]
Die Zauberflöte
2. Ach ich fühl’s [3:59]
Le nozze di Figaro
3. E Susanna non vien … [1:29]
4. Dove sono [4:15]
5. Giunse alfin il momento … [1:20]
6. Deh, vieni, non tardar [3:01]
La finta semplice
7. Senti, l’eco, ove t’aggiri [6:47]
Die Entführung aus dem Serail
8. Durch Zärtlichkeit und Schmeicheln [4:00]
9. Martern aller Arten [8:44]
10. Vorrei spiegarvi, oh Dio K 418 [6:07]
Don Giovanni
11. Crudele? Ah no, mio bene … [1:34]
12. Non mi dir [4:33]
La clemenza di Tito
13. S’altro che lagrime [1:47]
Don Giovanni
14. In quale eccessi … [1:59]
15. Mi tradì [3:39]
La clemenza di Tito
16. Ecco il punto … [2:18]
17. Non più di diori [6:18]
18. No, che non sei capace K 419 [4:07]
Diana Damrau (soprano)
Le Cercle de L’Harmonie/Jérémie Rhorer
rec. Maison de l’Orchestre National d’Ile de France, Alfortville, France, 14-20 January 2008
Texts and translations enclosed
VIRGIN CLASSICS 2120232 [73:21]
Experience Classicsonline

I reviewed Diana Damrau’s previous solo record, ‘Arie di bravura’ about a year ago. I wrote that ‘I expected pinpoint accuracy, easy delivery, beautiful but fairly thin tone with some edge to it, well controlled vibrato, expressive readings and good enunciation’. That disc, selected as a Recording of the Month, was filled with rarities by Salieri, Righini and Mozart. The Queen of the Night’s two arias from Die Zauberflöte were the only exceptions.
 
Damrau now returns with a downright Mozart disc. While there are some relative rarities here she has first and foremost selected favourites she has performed on stage – and a few she would like to do. Mozart has played a central part in Damrau’s operatic life and she has sung two or more roles from several operas. The first was Barbarina in Le nozze di Figaro at her professional debut in Würzburg in 1995.
 
As on the first disc she is accompanied by the superb Le Cercle de l’Harmonie, who under their leader Jérémie Rhorer deliver crisp and rhythmically alert playing on period instruments. Long gone are the days when period ensembles played with thin, wiry string tone, were sometimes rather ill-tuned and where unanimity was suspect. These players are well integrated and they display an energy that is infectious. The many instrumental soloists, who are credited in the booklet, are also first class, none more so than the clarinettist Nicola Boud, who also plays the basset-horn in Vitellia’s aria from La clemenza di Tito (tr. 17).
 
In the booklet Richard Lawrence gives an overview of Mozart’s operatic writing, starting with La finta semplice in 1768 when Mozart was twelve. It was commissioned by the Emperor Joseph II, was rehearsed and performed privately. Due to intrigues the production was cancelled and was performed only once in Salzburg the next year. After that it was never heard again until modern times. Mozart was disappointed but his father was furious. Since Richard Lawrence’s essay is chronological it is a pity that the arias are not presented on the disc in chronological order, which would have made it much easier to follow his development. As it is they are presented in a haphazard order.
 
As on the previous disc Ms Damrau shows her prowess at expressing the individual characters’ personalities or at least their predicaments. The list of her merits set out at the start of this review is mostly applicable to this new recital as well. ‘Mostly’ is an indication that some signs of tear and wear on the voice have crept in. Whether this is temporary or a sign of permanent deterioration is hard to tell but it is quite obvious that the tone has hardened and become more aggressive. There’s also a noticeable widening of the vibrato when under pressure.
 
Against this can be listed any number of felicities. Her technique is marvellous with every demisemiquaver in the virtuoso runs perfectly controlled. Her top notes are luminous and effortless and when she floats the tone at pianissimo, as for example in Donna Anna’s aria from Don Giovanni (tr. 12), she is superb. The two concert arias – or rather insert arias, since they were composed to replace arias in Pasquale Anfossi’s Il curioso indiscreto to suit Aloysia Lange, his sister-in-law – also show her at the height of her powers. Vorrei spiegarvi (tr. 10) is sung with light, silvery tone to match the plucked string accompaniment. The tessitura is high but causes her no problems at all. The possibly still better known No, che non sei capace (tr. 18) is even better with its dizzying virtuosity and dramatic intensity. She can’t quite match the ease and elegance of Pierrette Alarie in the latter but it is a more than worthy reading. Alarie’s recording is presently available in a three-disc box with her husband Leopold Simoneau (see review).
 
Let me just add that Aspasia’s aria from Mitridate, another opera from Mozart’s youth, is a stunning demonstration in virtuosity. The two Figaro arias are both splendid but Susanna is a character better suited to Diana Damrau’s voice. Servilia’s short aria from La clemenza di Tito is certainly one of the most delicious things Mozart ever wrote. When she as Vitellia sings the famous aria with the basset-horn obbligato, she is required to go down in the deepest contralto register. Ms Damrau does this with impressive security.
 
Diana Damrau is certainly among the best lyric sopranos around at the moment and even though I have expressed some reservations there is so much to admire in this recital, not least her expressive handling of the texts.
 
Texts and translations in several languages are included but unfortunately the pages of my booklet had been shuffled so I had some difficulties in following them properly.
 
Göran Forsling

see also review by Ralph Moore

 

 


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