One of the most grown-up review sites around

54,416 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             

Some items
to consider

new MWI
Current reviews

old MWI
pre-2023 reviews

paid for

Acte Prealable Polish recordings

Forgotten Recordings
Forgotten Recordings
All Forgotten Records Reviews

Troubadisc Weinberg- TROCD01450

All Troubadisc reviews

FOGHORN Classics

Brahms String Quartets

All Foghorn Reviews

All HDTT reviews

Songs to Harp from
the Old and New World

all Nimbus reviews

all tudor reviews

Follow us on Twitter

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Contributing Editor
Ralph Moore
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger

Plain text for smartphones
and printers

Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

Chandos recordings
All Chandos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews

all cpo reviews

Divine Art recordings
Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews

All APR reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount



Support us financially by purchasing this disc from:

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Don Giovanni (1787) [173:13]
Don Giovanni - Ildebrando D’Arcangelo (baritone)
Donna Anna - Diana Damrau (soprano)
Leporello - Luca Pisaroni (bass)
Il Commendatore - Vitalij Kowaljow (bass)
Donna Elvira - Joyce DiDonato (soprano)
Don Ottavio - Rolando Villazón (tenor)
Masetto- Konstantin Wolff (bass)
Zerlina- Mojca Erdmann (soprano)
Vocalensemble Rastatt/Holger Speck
Mahler Chamber Orchestra/Yannick Nézet-Séguin
rec. July 2011, Festspielhaus Baden-Baden. DDD. stereo
DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 477 9878 [3 CDs: 59:30 + 54:45 + 58:58]

Experience Classicsonline

A new recording of Mozart’s operatic masterpiece with this kind of pedigree and casting must be welcomed and treated with respect. This especially because it is the first in a planned series of seven recordings of concert performances of major Mozart operas in the Festspielhaus Baden-Baden. In these days of austerity it is rare to find the kind of sponsorship required for such an undertaking. Whereas recordings of Don Giovanni were once frequent it is a good while since we had a new one of any real quality. Many of us are abashed to confess that we return to recordings forty, fifty and even sixty years old when we want to hear it.
Nonetheless, I find my reaction to it to be very mixed indeed, a response most dictated by some anomalies and peculiarities in the conception. These arise not least from the mismatch between Nézet-Séguin’s direction and his singers’ style. It is immediately apparent in the cleanly articulated overture that, in line with the modern fashion, the Mahler Chamber Orchestra is a reduced band that employs very little vibrato. By contrast, the sopranos, especially Diana Damrau, all employ fruity vibrato verging on a wobble - perhaps not by choice but more because their voices cannot adapt to the smaller-scale idiom the conductor applies. This is a recording full of incongruities: even while he requires the strings to eschew vibrato, Nézet-Séguin frequently employs rubato. The result is more of an etiolated whine than is entirely pleasing. Nor is there much drive or excitement in this performance. I miss the febrile, even hysterical, quality that should characterise the Don’s sex-obsession and the outraged responses it generates. “Deh vieni” is absurdly lugubrious with no spark at all, so slow and restrained that an incipient tremolo intrudes into D’Arcangelo’s tone. Conversely, the Champagne Aria is taken so fast - as if the conductor vaguely sensed he needed to take the opportunity to inject some spark in the generally staid proceedings - that the singer can barely get his sizeable voice around the divisions. There is a general atmosphere of carefulness about the reading which is perhaps inevitable in a mere concert performance. It lacks the spark and brio of a fully staged version.
A further oddity: the Don has a much richer, basso-coloured tone than the Leporello who is essentially a light baritone without a hint of the buffo weight desirable in the role. This although Pisaroni has a fleet and engaging way with the words and it is a pleasure to hear two Italians make so much of their exchanges, joshing one another idiomatically. We have enjoyed great chocolate-voiced Dons such as Siepi and Ghiaurov in previous celebrated recordings and there is certainly nothing inappropriate about D’Arcangelo’s big, black, handsome-brute of a bass to portray the Don’s cocksure brutality. Yet for all that I very much appreciate D’Arcangelo’s saturnine characterisation, for me the stars of the recording are Villazon and DiDonato.
He is the surprise of the recording and a very welcome one, too, not just because we all want to hear such a lovely voice back in form after its vocal crises. He offers us something really different and convincing in his Don Ottavio. This is no wimpish pi-boy but an ardent flesh-and-blood lover who persuades us of his determination to defend and avenge the woman he loves. His dark, husky beauty of tone, fine gradations of dynamic and poised, virile top notes are all a delight, while his long-breathed “Il mio tesoro” may stand comparison for elegance and legato with any predecessor. It is to his Ottavio I shall return as a model of its kind.
The shock of Damrau’s wobble when she joins Villazon in “Soa, sola, in buio loco” is really unpleasant. She squeezes and flaps, and the vocal security which marked her 2008 solo Mozart recital album has mutated into a decidedly self-conscious struggle with the notes. The power in “Or sai” is still there but the basic tone is now strident and harsh - qualities accentuated by the beat. This compromises her ability to make Donna Anna sound poignant and vulnerable. She is simply shrill. In the context of 110 years of recorded Donna Annas she isn’t in the running.
Mojca Erdmann as Zerlina is similarly unimpressive: a very ordinary, thin-toned, rather charmless singer, again afflicted by an exaggerated vibrato and one who cannot stand comparison with previous exponents such as Freni, Sciutti, Gueden and Seefried. Her attempt to interpolate a high C in “Vedrai, carino” is ill-advised.
DiDonato by comparison is so much more agreeable on the ear. She manages the awkward tessitura of Donna Elvira’s music with triumphant ease. She is a rich-voiced spitfire in the Schwarzkopf mode. Whether she is the great singer many acclaim her as, I am not sure but she is certainly impressive here.
The Masetto is perfectly adequate. The Commendatore is somewhat given to - yes, you’ve guessed it - wobble and a slightly nasal, throttled vocal production. He has a good low D. A pity that he doesn’t command and chill in the manner of the most impressive Stone Guests; the final scene doesn’t really catch fire.
All in all, a mixed bag: an admirable trio of singers in D’Arcangelo, DiDonato and Villazon but otherwise too low-key to stir the blood.  

Ralph Moore 

Support us financially by purchasing this disc from:
















































































Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews


      Composer surveys
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site


Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure



Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Pat and present

Helpers invited!

How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips

Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Other links
Web News sites etc

A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.