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Mozart: Le Nozze Di Figaro / Jacobs, Gens, Ciofi, Et Al

Release Date: 08/10/2004 
Label:  Harmonia Mundi   Catalog #: 801818   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Nuria RialPatrizia CiofiAngelika KirchschlagerSimon Keenlyside,   ... 
Conductor:  René Jacobs
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Concerto CologneCologne Collegium Vocale
Number of Discs: 3 
Recorded in: Multi 
Length: 2 Hours 52 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

This is a hybrid Super Audio CD playable on both regular and Super Audio CD players.

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
Read more 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. [4/12/2004]
--Robert Levine, ClassicsToday.com Read less

Works on This Recording

Le nozze di Figaro, K 492 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Nuria Rial (Soprano), Patrizia Ciofi (Soprano), Angelika Kirchschlager (Mezzo Soprano),
Simon Keenlyside (Baritone), Véronique Gens (Soprano), Marie McLaughlin (Soprano),
Lorenzo Regazzo (Bass), Antonio Abete (Bass), Nicolau De Figueiredo (Piano),
Kobie van Rensburg (Tenor)
Conductor:  René Jacobs
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Concerto Cologne,  Cologne Collegium Vocale
Period: Classical 
Written: 1786; Vienna, Austria 

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