Notes and Editorial Reviews
Gramophone 2004 Record of the Year!
Much like his
Cosi fan tutte of a couple of years ago, René Jacobs here gives us a "Nozze" that's so vibrant as to be practically visible. The give-and-take in the recitatives is timed brilliantly to real speech patterns, the singers whisper conspiratorily when needed (the asides sound like real asides--a very difficult effect to create on disc), and the ensembles have a true sense of spontaneity.
In the accompanying booklet Jacobs addresses the questions of tempo, recitative, and continuo, not to mention structural and dramatic
reasons for including Basilio's and Marcellina's arias in the last act, which are persuasive and insightful. Accordingly, we learn of Mozart's fondness for quick tempos, the need for appoggiaturas, the search for apt ornamentation, and more. In fact, Jacobs' tempos are not particularly fast by après-Böhm-and-Karajan standards (the very end of the second-act finale is more rigid and clear than it normally is), appoggiaturas abound and sound just right, and the ornamentation is plentiful and, although a bit jarring at first, very nice indeed. The prominent pianoforte, diddling away with musical commentary in recitatives, makes it almost another character, and it can be heard underpinning arias as well. Some listeners may find it intrusive; I think it's fascinating. (Just before Susanna's last-act "Deh vieni, non tardar", it plays a bit of "Un moto di gioia", a substitute aria for Susanna--an "in" joke if ever there were one.)
The performances are exciting. Simon Keenlyside's Count is simply the best on disc; he manages to be lascivious and angry without ever going into mustache-twirling caricature (the way, say, Fischer-Dieskau tended to), and he's the only singer I've ever heard who gets through every note, every turn, every trill of the third-act aria unscathed, even victorious. His Countess, Veronique Gens, at times seems a bit vocally out of sorts, but she presents a remarkably sympathetic figure, with sadness and girlish desire for fun in equal measure.
Patrizia Ciofi's Susanna is beautifully sung--spicy and knowing; she's a perfect foil for the somewhat serious Figaro of Lorenzo Regazzo. He has a rich voice and all the notes for the soon-to-be-wed Figaro, and he sounds properly non-plussed by the Bartolo/Marcellina announcement. Angelika Kirchschlager's Cherubino is boyish and impetuous, a truly romance-stricken character. Marie McLaughlin makes a younger-than-usual Marcellina, Antonio Abete flavors Bartolo well, and Kobie van Rensburg is colorful as both Basilio and Don Curzio.
As suggested, Jacobs is the true star. By keeping the cast interested and lively and by bringing out the razzing in the winds, the blare of the horns (in Figaro's fourth-act aria particularly, although they seem to be coming from a different, distant acoustic), the sharp attack of the strings, and a timpani thwap that punctuates just as it ought to, he brilliantly realizes the comedy of the text and music. This is top of the line.
--Robert Levine, ClassicsToday.com
Le nozze di Figaro was premiered at the Imperial and Royal Court Theatre on 1 May 1786, the first of Mozart's operas to be written without a commission and a new chapter in operatic history. René Jacobs' historic performances of Le Nozze di Figaro at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées in October 2001 led to rave reviews in the French press and a revival there in June; to be followed by a concert performance at the Barbican on June 29th 2004. We are fortunate to have this milestone recording with a youthful, international all-star cast, in the now customary luxury packaging from harmonia mundi France.
“...a cast of young performers, taut as a bowstring... Véronique Gens is sublime as the Countess.... the overture already promises an evening of bliss: vintage champagne bubbles over the three levels of voices that will run through the work.”
- Le Figaro
"This is as fine a Figaro as has appeared on disc in the past 20 years...Most important of all, this is a version of Figaro that sounds as if it has come straight out of the theatre, as if the spontaneity of a live performance had been reconciled with the accuracy and attention to detail afforded by studio takes...It is hard to think of another recording of Figaro in which every particle of the text, in ensembles as well as solo numbers, is so clearly enunciated."
Friday April 2, 2004
Works on This Recording
Le nozze di Figaro, K 492 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Kobie van Rensburg (Tenor),
Véronique Gens (Soprano),
Patrizia Ciofi (Soprano),
Marie McLaughlin (Soprano),
Antonio Abete (Bass),
Nicolau De Figueiredo (Piano),
Nuria Rial (Soprano),
Lorenzo Regazzo (Bass),
Simon Keenlyside (Baritone),
Angelika Kirchschlager (Mezzo Soprano)
Cologne Collegium Vocale
Written: 1786; Vienna, Austria
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