This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.
Notes and Editorial Reviews
During his early years in Vienna, Mozart made two abortive attempts at opera buffa. Both survive merely as fragments, and it is not difficult to see why he threw in the towel; it was not until he met Da Ponte that he was able to find a libretto worthy of him. The earlier of them, L'oca del Cairo, was planned out in the summer of 1783 when Mozart was in Salzburg visiting his father and his sister; the court chaplain, Gianbattista Varesco, who had written the text for Idomeneo, was conscripted again as librettist. Mozart sketched out much of the First Act, essentially three arias, an aria-cumtrio, two duets, a quartet and a finale, though he completed little of the orchestration (only the trio survives in a performable version). Mozart's
usual method of composing was to write out a 'continuity sketch'—that is, the main musical line through the entire movement, which in the case of an aria would be the vocal line, to which he usually added the bass as he went along and some 110 times linking pasages when the voice pauses (sometimes, too, any other ideas that came to him in composition and that he thought worth putting down while they were in his mind). For this recording, Erik Smith has filled in the orchestration, in a generally rather cautious but stylish way. Mozart—as Smith of course knows—would have done it differently, probably more elaborately (as Nicholas Ternperley did in his fuller version of the act, with some newly composed numbers, that I heard him conduct in Chicago last autumn); but in general it is better for a recording to err on the side of discretion rather than try to do what one imagines Mozart might have done. Here and there Erik Smith's solutions don't seem to me quite attuned to Mozart, but his guess is as good and as musical as anyone's and there is little to complain of.
Except, perhaps, in the actual quality of the music. It is splendid stuff alongside the generality of opera buffe of the time, but fairly thin by Mozart's own standards. The aria for Auretta is certainly a slender piece, to put it kindly, and I can't think of any Mozart movement quite as dull in some respects as the aria-cum-trio, with its entire pages of tonic and dominant harmony. But the quartet might well have amounted to something had Mozart enriched it orchestrally, and there are some good moments in the finale. It is good to have L'oca del Cairo taken seriously in this new recording for the Philips complete edition, with such an artist as Dietrich FischerDieskau in a principal role, singing very characteristically, and Peter Schreier in a smaller one as well as conducting.
Lo sposo deluso, which is a little later (the exact date remains uncertain), has recently been found to use a libretto that had previously been set by Cimarosa. The work is on the whole musically superior; its opening scene, with the overture leading directly into the first number, a quartet, is effective and original in its invention, and there is later an attractive trio. The two arias (again Erik Smith's completions) are unappealingly performed in this reissue, rather hard driven by Sir Colin Davis, and Felicity Palmer's singing in hers is oddly aggressive; Robert Tear's, however, is quite elegantly done. There are good small contributions from the other soloists. In all, however, one of the less compulsive of the issues of littleknown Mozart for the Philips set, though of course one that no student of Mozart's operatic development can afford to miss.
-- Stanley Sadie, Gramophone [5/1992]
Works on This Recording
L'oca del Cairo, K 422 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Anton Scharinger (Bass),
Peter Schreier (Tenor),
Edith Wiens (Soprano),
Inga Nielsen (Soprano),
Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (Baritone),
Douglas Johnson (Tenor),
Pamela Coburn (Soprano)
C.P.E. Bach Chamber Orchestra
Written: 1783; Vienna, Austria
Lo sposo deluso, K 430 (424a) by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Felicity Palmer (Soprano),
Robert Tear (Tenor),
Ileana Cotrubas (Soprano),
Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (Baritone)
Sir Colin Davis
London Symphony Orchestra
Written: 1783; Vienna, Austria
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