Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Jérérmie Rohrer, Le Cercle de l'Harmonie|
Genres: Pop, Classical
For her second recording as an exclusive Virgin Classics artist, soprano sensation Diana Damrau has chosen to sing a remarkably varied selection of concert and operatic arias by Mozart, ranging from the bravura (Donna Anna... more »
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For her second recording as an exclusive Virgin Classics artist, soprano sensation Diana Damrau has chosen to sing a remarkably varied selection of concert and operatic arias by Mozart, ranging from the bravura (Donna Anna, Konstanze, Donna Elvira) to the more serious (Pamina) to the lighter soprano (soubrette roles such as Susanna, Blonde, and others). Damrau has gained international acclaim for her Mozart renditions, alternating the roles of Pamina and The Queen of the Night at the Met last fall, as well as Konstanze in Die Entführung later in the season. Her breathtaking rendition of The Queen of the Night Aria from her first CD was also a highlight among critics. In fact, that album, Arie di Bravura, received international critical acclaim, rave reviews, and was granted Opera News Magazine's prestigious Editor's Choice award.
AN EXCEPTIONAL MOZARTIAN AND COLORATURA SOPRANO
R. Olsavicky | Butler, Pa. USA | 11/12/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It seems that with every new recording one discovers a new facet of this wonderful artist. Her voice is gorgeous. It has a bit more depth and darkish color that your usual coloratura soprano. She isn't quite a dramatic coloratura soprano, maybe a coloratura with some Spinto not lyric overtones. You may well ask yourself why I'm taking the time to explore this unique sound of hers? WELL!!! Because of the color and size of her beautiful voice she can do many more roles that the average lyric-coloratura soprano can't. Besides having a great sound and technique, she is also a great vocal actress! Also, live reviews tell us she is a great actress on stage. Besides, a wonderful MITRIDATE aria we get an excellent MARTERN ALLER ARTEN. We also get a rich voiced Countess from FIGARO and Donna Anna's NON MI DIR with stunning coloratura. I also love her VORREI SPIEGARVI, OH DIO. I fell in love with this aria because of Beverly Sills' wonderful recording of this aria. Her coloratura is up there with the best and her interpretive skills right up there also. Let's hope for many more wonderful recordings, DVDs, and performances from this great artist.
The accompaniments are with LE CERCLE de L'HARMONIE conducted by Jeremie Rhorer. Most of their work is excellent but maybe a little fast in VORREI SPIEGARVI. It may take some listeners a few moments to adjust to period instruments for Mozart Operas especially the Flutes. To my ear they come across a little out of tune. However that just may be me. In spite of this do not miss this great CD of great Mozart Arias performed by a new golden age Mozartian. This Soprano has my highest respect and recommendation. Try some of her recital CDS especially, the Salzburg Recital on ORFEO and her Mahler Recital. She is an exceptional recitalist as well as a great singer of Opera!"
A talented singer - but a bridge too far, too soon
Ralph Moore | Bishop's Stortford, UK | 12/16/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I can see that I am going to be out on a limb compared with previous reviewers - but I notice that an Amazon.fr reviewer thinks similarly to me, so here goes anyway:
I was looking forward to reviewing this disc, having been impressed by Diana Damrau when I heard her live as Zerbinetta and, like everyone else, wowed by her Queen of the Night on DVD and "YouTube", where her rendition of that fiendish aria has had hundreds of thousands of hits. She has since declared that she will no longer be performing that rôle, but, judging by this collection of arias, I wonder if that decision is premature.
Undeniably, Damrau is hugely talented: lapidary precision in coloratura, no hint of shrillness in her top notes, absolute security of intonation, an assured stage presence and considerable personal charms - she has many sterling qualities which combine to make her a gifted singer of the modern type that productions worldwide cry out for. She is, nonetheless, still a relatively young and inexperienced singer and I wonder if she has not allowed herself to be pushed too soon into assuming the grander kind of Mozartian rôles to which her voice is not (yet?) ideally suited. I need to be specific if I am to make my case, and I am aware that some will think that I am being unnecessarily harsh, but while listening to the majority of the arias she undertakes here, I inevitably found myself comparing her with earlier, favourite artists, as I felt that there was something wanting.
Let's start with Pamina's aria from "Die Zauberflöte". I reached for three other versions for the purposes of comparison: one by Gundula Janowitz (a hissy, venerable 1964 recording with Klemperer conducting), one by Barbara Bonney (her 1992 recording on a recital disc), and a third by Barbara Hendricks (the complete 1991 set conducted by Mackerras). These performances vary hugely in speed, ranging from a pacy 2'28" with Mackerras to a leisurely 4'09" with Klemperer. Bonney comes in at 3'26, so Damrau's 3'59" is also quite relaxed, yet compared with the Klemperer/Janowitz version it seems to drag and plod; there is little feel for rubato or flexibility of phrasing in Rhorer's conducting. By comparison, Mackerras (Hendricks) and Östman (Bonney) ought to sound as if they are galloping through the aria, but, on the contrary, they simply sound natural and unforced; their singers are able to phrase sensitively and project a real personality. Janowitz' Pamina, in any case, is sung with such heavenly phrasing and tone that we do not notice how long Klemperer takes over it. Nor is it a question of period style versus modern instruments; Östman directs a period band whereas Klemperer has the LPO and both are equally successful in their way. I find myself subconsciously disconcerted by Rhorer's use of "correct" original lower pitch for all the arias in this recording; once you have heard Janowitz float her B flat, Damrau's equivalent note, pitched somewhere around a quarter tone lower, sounds distinctly flat, being closer to a modern A - but that might not necessarily bother others. Finally, it is a question of quality of voice. All of the other ladies I use for the purposes of comparison, have, to my ears, a greater intrinsic beauty of sound, more individuality of utterance, more variety in tone, dynamics and vocal colouring. Each seems to do a better job bringing Pamina alive and gives her what the late "Gramophone" critic Alan Blyth used to call more "face".
It follows naturally that if Damrau is somewhat outshone by her predecessors as Pamina, then it is still less likely that she will be a satisfactory Countess, Donna Anna, Donna Elvira or Vitellia- and so it proves. She simply hasn't the breadth and heft of voice to sing these deceptively demanding rôles. She can sing all the notes but essentially trills her way through them as if she hasn't really digested the music. Most of the time, whatever she is singing, she sounds like a Susanna - which, along with her Constanze, the arias from the early operas and the two concert arias, form by far the most successful portion of this recital. Damrau is essentially still a light lyric soprano with a voice too small of scale to rival, say, Renee Fleming, Martina Arroyo or Eleanor Steber in the "grande dame" rôles in Mozart opera. I took down Dame Janet Baker's assumption of Vitellia to reassure myself that I was not being unfair to Damrau - and there I found the attack, the variety of colour, plaintiveness of phrasing, richness of lower register and, above all, the ability to use coloratura to enhance emotion - all of which are lacking, or present to a lesser degree, in Damrau's singing of "Non piu di fiori". She certainly makes it sound easy, but she rarely moves us. Her Donna Anna is young and vulnerable but ultimately forgettable; even when she is singing Susanna, her characterisation pales in comparison with a singer such as Lucia Popp. In truth, I was bored by much of this recital, despite her accomplishment.
Le Cercle de l'Harmonie is certainly a talented band; they play with verve, accuracy and technical brilliance but Rohrer seems to favour extremes: they are sometimes driven too hard and at others seem too relaxed.
I am reminded of an anecdote from Beverley Sills' autobiography in which that celebrated singer remarked that she did not think Norma was that difficult a role and that some lines in "Norma" always made her "want to giggle". This, her stern detractors remarked, explains her lack of proper commitment and gravitas as Norma. I do not say that Damrau is guilty of such flippancy, but I wonder whether she has not fallen into the trap of severely under-estimating the challenge of the grander arias she has undertaken here. She is a major talent but this CD represents, for me, a bridge too far, too soon.
Exceptional performance of Mozart
Abel | Hong Kong | 12/05/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The more I hear of Damrau, the more amazed I become.
This array of Mozart arias demonstrates her exceptional vocal capabilities and astounding range. There is nothing lacking in style and articulation.
But what is most astonishing is not vocal technique. It is the ability of this singer to express herself through the medium of singing.
Vitellia's aria from La Clemenza di Tito is a hideously difficult piece of vocal writing, so hideous because, as musical historians found out, Mozart himself hated Vitellia. The more he hated this character, the more difficulty he injects into her music.
Just listen to Damrau's handling of this hideous piece. I have heard many top sopranos/mezzos singing this before - Eva Mei, Anne Sofie von Otter, just to name two recent ones. None of them, however beautiful they handle the piece, could sound convincing enough. And Rene Jacobs' version of La Clemenza a couple of years ago introduced a fiendishly capable Vitellia in the form of Bulgarian coloratura Alexandrina Pendatchanska. No lacking in expressiveness, I thought then that this Vitellia is unsurpassable.
Well, let me report that Damrau does indeed surpassed Pendatchanska's interpretation. Damrau's Vitellia is so alive and believable: fear, regret, remorse, hesitation, resolution, all bound up in Mozart's musical lines, and so effectively articulated by Damrau. The aria becomes at once totally explicable - Mozart did NOT in fact lacked one jot of empathy for his Vitellia, however much he might have disliked her.
Thank you, Ms. Damrau, for your great interpretation."