Mozart Operas (12CD)
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Complete for the first time, the critically acclaimed Mozart opera recordings made by a leading light of ‘period’ performance. The scion of a Dutch family deeply involved in the historically informed performance movement for the past 70 years, Sigiswald Kuijken made his name as a violinist. The combination of scholarly diligence, performing flair and unwavering determination – ‘I’ve always been fanatical about doing things the way they were done in their day,’ as he remarked in an interview – produced recordings of solo, chamber and concerted Bach as deeply considered as they were imbued with rhythmic vitality. In 1972 he gathered like-minded friends and colleagues to form La Petite Bande as a recording ensemble; led from the first desk by Kuijken himself, the ensemble quickly gained renown through performances and tours, and their repertoire evolved naturally over time until they began a project to record Mozart’s major operas in 1992 with Don Giovanni (completing it 12 years later with Die Zauberflöte). Kuijken’s approach was characteristically definitive: ‘These pieces are immortal, they don’t need arranging. If you sayyou’re playing Don Giovanni and it’s a piece of modern theatre with music by Mozart, it’s not the same piece.’ Thus he made no apologies for casting singers who were often young, and more experienced in early-music idioms than in treading the boards of the world’s great opera houses; or for putting them in stagings which Mozart and da Ponte would have recognised. At the same time, Kuijken always sought to uncover the spiritual dimension of music that explores the farthest reaches of human emotion. ‘There is something strange that Bach shares with Mozart,’ he said. ‘It appears that their music has a deeper source. I know it’s a romantic idea to say that, but I’m not ashamed to do so and in fact I feel it increasingly.’ Critics responded warmly from the beginning to this ‘informed Romanticism’, which was caught on the wing in live recordings. The booklet to this set contains detailed synopses of each opera. ‘Everything ticks like fine-tuned clockwork and there is abundant energy throughout… I hear none of that horrid glassy tone that so often betokens the “original instrument” approach. But otherwise the overall sound has the brightness and airiness that differentiates period performance (at its most pleasing to the untutored ear) from twentieth-century symphonism.’ (Fanfare, Mar/Apr 1994, Così). ‘Interpretations of Mozart's 18th-century music should place an emphasis on gracefulness and elegance. Sigiswald Kuijken’s conducting obviously shares that view.’ (Fanfare, May/June 2003, Figaro). ‘This overlooked 2004 recording has a lot going for it… Kuijken’s leadership is fleet and comic, the period instruments are well and expressively played, the recording itself is vivid and bright. The singers are the lightest on CD.’ (Classics Today) This 12CD set brings together Mozart’s greatest mature operas: Cosí Fan Tutte, Le Nozze di Figaro, Don Giovanni and Die Zauberflöte. The performances are conducted by Sigiswald Kuijken, pioneer and veteran of the Historically Informed Performance Practice and a passionate and committed musician. The orchestra is La Petite Bande and the soloists include such celebrities as Monica Groop, Huub Claessens, Nancy Argenta, Christina Högman, Soile Isokoski, Harry van de Kamp, Per Vollestad, Stephan Genz, Suzie LeBlanc and many more. Complete libretti of the operas are available on the Brilliant Classics Website.
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