This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.
Notes and Editorial Reviews
The almost unfailing and often uncanny sensitivity to the very nuance of tempo which will best articulate the emotional breathing of any aria is what separates Ostman's Mozart.
Even those who have never been to Drottningholm and experienced Arnold Ostman's Mozart in the flesh will know exactly what it is that makes his recorded performances live. It is not only his subtle use of period instruments (or replicas of them); it is not only the conviction and consistency with which he carries through the musical dramaturgy of whichever version is in hand; it is, above all, the accuracy with which he takes Mozart's pulse: the nervous acuity of every second of recitative, and the almost unfailing and often uncanny sensitivity
to the very nuance of tempo which will best articulate the emotional breathing of any aria. I remarked on this in the "Addio"s of his Cosi fan tutte (L'Oiseau-Lyre CD 414 316-201-13, 7/86); it is there again in Figaro (L'Oiseau-Lyre (D421 333-201-13, 12/88) and it is the very lifeblood of this Don Giovanni.
Ostman says some provocative things to Jamie James on page 1136 about the possible blood relationship of Don Giovanni and Leporello. Be that as it may, the closeness of their musical relationship as revealed here certainly makes possible an intriguing psychological double-act, and makes their every appearance dramatically terse and highly-charged. As Paul Griffiths points Out in his stimulating accompanying essay, Don Giovanni discloses himself not through reflective arias but in dialogue with Leporello. It is, indeed, as if they represent two sides of a single ego here, so close are their vocal timbres, so instant their repartee, so dense their conspiracy. Each word, each phrase flickers in a chiaroscuro of constantly shifting inflexion.
Taken apart, the voices of Hakan Hagegard and Gilles Cachemaille reveal their own clear profiles. Cachemaille's Leporello swings from coiled resentment to urbane dignity and back again. His saturnine Catalogue song is a masterpiece of understatement (to say nothing of breath control); it is the orchestra here who have all the fun in the chuckling of the woodwind and the wheedling and needling of the vibrato-less strings. Cachemaille's baritone is smooth-honed enough to express the considerable pride of this Leporello: he clearly addresses the statue of the Commendatore as a social equal.
The voracious and volatile energy of Hagegãrd's Giovanni, at times nicely raw and rough-edged, does not exclude an extraordinary lightness and suavity of phrasing. Nudged by Ostman's tempos, he swallows his Champagne aria in one draught, and sings his serenade in what seems to be a single mezzo voce whisper. One really catches one's breath, though, in "La ci darem". His voice lightens to match exactly that of Barbara Bonney, and the entire aria is lifted by Ostman into a single flutter of the heart.
Just as Ostman seems to be subtly exploiting the natural chemistry of the singers' own relationship, so his "Bati, bati" fits hand in glove the weight of Bonney's soprano, and the resonance of the accompanying instruments. This is a Zerlina who lives in and Out of a dream, and Ostman knows exactly how to draw this from the distinctive qualities of her voice.
Taking the Prague version as his definitive manuscript also clarifies Ostman's perceptions of the characters of Donna Anna and Donna Elvira. Donna Anna for him is a younger, more lyrical creature than she is wont to be, and Arleen Auger certainly plays down the "furia disperata" of her role to glory in the musical halo which glows forth whenever she joins the proceedings. Ostman's obsession with the andante a/la breve line of her music gives Auger every chance to revel in the legato and subtle shading of line at which she is expert. But the wide leaps and often syncopated rhythms of her writing do, perhaps, indicate deeper passions than Auger ever really suggests.
Della Jones realizes to a nicety Ostman's perception of the Prague Donna Elvira: more of a deft comic actor-singer than afemmefata!e. What is more, the particular pungency of the mezzo's high notes add a telling shadow of wistfulness to her "Ah chi mi dice mai", helped by little inflexions of judiciously placed ornament. Lest anyone should feel cheated by the exclusion of "Mi tradi", Ostman includes this on a separate disc within 27 minutes' worth of additions and alternatives written by Mozart for Vienna.
His control of pacing creates a fine sweep through each single act and single disc. The third one includes a vivacious performance of the Leporello/Zerlina duet, "Per queste tue manine" written for the new scene Mozart composed before Donna Anna's solo scene in Act 2. It also reveals that it might well have been better to have given this Don Ottavio his "Dalla sua pace" after all, as Nico van der Mee], rather like the original Vienna Don Ottavio, does make rather heavy weather of the runs in "II mio tesoro". Otherwise, this Ottavio follows the line as clearly and faithfully as he follows his moral duty. Bryn Terfel's Masetto, is, by contrast, nicely bristling and bustling, while Kristinn Sigmundsson brings a deep Icelandic breath of properly chilling air to the role of the Commandatore.
-- Gramophone [12/1990]
Works on This Recording
Don Giovanni, K 527 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Hĺkan Hagegĺrd (Baritone),
Bryn Terfel (Baritone),
Barbara Bonney (Soprano),
Arleen Augér (Soprano),
Gilles Cachemaille (Baritone),
Nico Van der Meel (Tenor),
Della Jones (Mezzo Soprano),
Kristinn Sigmundsson (Bass)
Drottningholm Court Theatre Orchestra,
Drottningholm Court Theatre Chorus
Written: 1787; Prague
Length: 171 Minutes 0 Secs.
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