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Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Operatic excerpts arranged for wind ensemble
Die Zauberflöte (1791) (arr. Joseph Heidenreich) [43:52]
La Clemenza di Tito (1791) (arr. Joseph Triebensee) [28:24]
Saxonian Wind Academy (Peter Wenzel and Burkard Weber (oboes); Ingolf Grohmann and Ralf Pettke (clarinets); Alexander Pansa and Frank Streuber (horns); Norman Kuhnert and Steffen Albert (bassoons); Holger Schuttchen (double-bass))
rec. Stadtpark Frankenberg, Sachsen, Germany, March 2006
NAXOS 8.570027 [72:16]
Experience Classicsonline

This CD is a perfect delight, and a real treat for anyone who loves the sound of a wind band. It consists of excerpts from Mozart’s last two operas arranged for wind octet with occasional help from a double-bass. If this seems unusual to us then it certainly wasn’t to the Viennese of Mozart’s day. Harmoniemusik, as it was known, was a regularly used method of popularising tunes from the operatic hits of the day. Mozart himself arranged items from Die Entführung Aus Dem Serail for wind ensemble. In a letter to his father he stated that it was his intention to do it himself before anyone else had the chance of making a profit out of his work! Joseph II established a much more permanent and professional group in Vienna in the 1780s, and it was for a group like this that Mozart wrote his great wind serenades. Arrangements like this are already familiar to lovers of Mozart’s operas: think of the banquet scene from Don Giovanni where the onstage band plays arrangements from operas by Martin, Sarti and Mozart himself. The sonority in this recording is just like that and these musicians have great fun as they play these great arrangements.
The playing is fruity and characterful throughout. It’s not surprising that the opening chords of the Zauberflöte overture sound so perfect in this arrangement. What is perhaps more surprising is how good the vocal lines sound. Listen, for example, to track 2 where the voices of the three ladies blend perfectly as they are bandied around the different instruments. Each instrument takes a turn singing a verse of Papageno’s Act 1 aria, while an oboe and a clarinet duet beautifully in Bei Männern. The clarinettist takes the place of the Magic Flute in Wie stark ist nicht dein Zauberton, while an oboe fills in as Tamino’s voice. It all works brilliantly and while there may be times when we miss the bigger climaxes, such as the chorus that ends Act 1, this is more than made up for by the sheer good fun of the arrangements. Some of them, in addition, are strangely and surprisingly beautiful, such as O Isis und Osiris, which if anything sounds even more deeply spiritual in this arrangement.
The Tito arrangements are just as much fun, but if anything capture the drama even better, mainly because this set of numbers follow the practice of giving one voice to one instrument more often. Nowhere is this more effective than in the final scene of Act 1 as each character meets on the hill to witness the devastation as the Capitol burns and Tito is – supposedly - murdered. We feel the drama of each voice adding and building, and we even get the whispered snatches that Vittelia gives Sesto to encourage him to keep his mouth shut. The more gentle numbers, such as Annio and Sesto’s friendship duet, or Tito’s Del piu sublime soglio work just as well.
This disc brought me tremendous pleasure. Recording quality is full but not too close and the playing is of the highest order. This is a disc worthy to set alongside your favourite recordings of these operas. At Naxos super-budget price you can afford to try it and see what you think.
Simon Thompson

Track listing
Die Zauberflöte
1. Overture [4:48]
2. Act I: Ich sollte fort? [1:06]
3. Act I: Der Vogelfanger bin ich ja [2:16]
4. Act I: Hm! Hm! Hm! [4:38]
5. Act I: Du feines Taubchen, nur herein! [1:58]
6. Act I: Bei Mannern, welche Liebe fuhlen [2:51]
7. Act I: Dies Bildnis ist bezaubernd schon [3:13]
8. Act I: Zum Ziele fuhrt dich diese Bahn [1:52]
9. Act I: Wie stark ist nicht dein Zauberton! [2:30]
10. Act I: Das klinget so herrlich [1:24]
11. Act I: Wenn Tugend und Gerechtigkeit [1:15]
12. Act II: O Isis und Osiris schenket [2:01]
13. Act II: Wie? Wie? Wie? [2:20] 14. Act II: Alles fuhlt der Liebe Freuden [1:28]
15. Act II: Seid uns zum zweiten Mal willkommen [2:12]
16. Act II: Soll ich dich, Teurer, nicht mehr sehn? [2:37]
17. Act II: Ein Madchen oder Weibchen wunscht Papageno sich! [3:39]
18. Act II: Pa-Pa-Pa-Pa-Pa-Papagena! Bist du mir nun ganz gegeben? [1:44]

La Clemenza di Tito
19. Overture [3:20]
20. Act I: Deh, se piacer mi vuoi [5:41]
21. Act I: Deh, prendi un dolce amplesso [1:13]
22. Act I: March [2:06]
23. Act I: Del piu sublime soglio [3:31]
24. Act I: Ah, perdona al primo affetto [3:33]
25. Act I: Ah, se fosse intorno al trono [2:06]
26. Act I: Deh, conservate, oh Dei [6:54]

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