Richard Blackford

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Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Vorrei spiegarvi, oh Dio!, K418 (1783) [6:45]
Exsultate, jubilate, K165 (1773) [15:30]
L’ameró, saró costante, K208 (1775) [7:03]
Basta, vincestí . . . Ah, non lasciarmi, K486a (1987 [6:44]
Un moto di gioia, K579 (1887) [1:39]
Chio mi scordi di te . . . . Non temer, amato bene, K490 (1887) [9:10]
Misera: Dove son?, K369 (1887) [6:42]
Kathleen Battle (soprano)
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/André Previn
rec. April and August 1985, Studio 1, Abbey Road, London
WARNER CLASSICS 9 93345 2 [54:14] 

The initial issue of this recording back in 1986 received a Grammy Award, and hearing it again now, it is easy to understand why. Kathleen Battle is a marvellous Mozart soprano, while André Previn and the Royal Philharmonic give her warm and sensitive support. The purity of her voice in the earlier pieces, the celebrated motet Exsultate, jubilate and the aria L’ameró, saró costante from Il rè pastore, seems near-ideal, the virtuosity completely in sympathy with the priorities of the musical line.
The other pieces all come from the following decade, the 1780s, when Mozart was living in Vienna and working with some of the finest performers of the day. The numerous concert arias he composed there were intended either to be inserted into the operas of other composers, or to be performed separately in order to display the most characteristic features of a particular singer's artistry. There is a different tale to be told in connection with each aria, and Kathleen Battle’s performances are wonderfully judged in these later and more sophisticated compositions too.
In truth there is no reason to criticise the musical aspects of this reissue. However, the supporting presentation, involving a complete lack of supporting documentation, undermines the excellence of the music-making. Not only are texts and translations lacking, there are no notes whatever to give any supporting information. There is merely a listing of the tracks on the outside cover which is repeated on the flimsy insert. True, there are a couple of introductory sentences on the outside back cover, but these manage to give the altogether misleading impression that Mozart originally wrote all these particular concert arias for the castrato voice. What a shame to undermine such first rate music making with such poor presentation - what is particularly lazy is that most of the insert is given over to pictures of other issues in the series.
Terry Barfoot 

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