Walter Fekula | New York, NY USA | 10/04/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is a curious recording. It is a compilation of four recording sessions: Bologna in March, 2005 with Netrebko (4); Modena in September, 2005 with Pape, Miklósa (2) released before; Glasgow in April, 2006 with Terfel (2) and ending in Dresden in May, 2006 with Quasthoff, Garanca and Anna singing a duet with each (5). The recording is subtitled "Anna Netrebko & Friends" and Ms. Netrebko appears on six of the 13 tracks. It is safe to assume that this album was not conceived to turn out this way but is a patchwork, as Anna Netrebko may not have had the time to fill up 60 minutes of Mozart by herself. Still, the voices are all DG "All Stars" and the music is Mozart, all taken from his operas, and beautifully rendered without a hitch. Anna Netrebko's gorgeous soprano shines through although I am not overly fond of Electra's final rage-aria from Idomeneo that she also recently sang at the Salzburg Festival shown on a U.S. television "Great Performances" production. I have always loved Pape, Terfel and Quasthoff's rich voices. Garanca, the young, brilliant Latvian mezzo-soprano is being groomed to be a star although I am upset with her for backing out of the "Mostly Mozart" Festival at Lincoln Center this summer. New York awaits her debut. I love the duet with Garanca and Netrebko from "La Clemenza di Tito". The CD ends with a lovely trio, "Soave sia il vento" from "Cosi fan tutte" with Terfel, soprano Miah Persson and mezzo Christina Rice. Conductors include Claudio Abbado, Charles Mackerras and Sebastian Weigle. My major quibble is that this is a studio recording. I prefer live recordings with the warts."
Lush, Netrebko-Dominated Tribute to Mozart's Operas Contains
Ed Uyeshima | San Francisco, CA USA | 11/26/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Deutsche Grammophon has brought out their big guns on this Mozart anniversary compendium, and the results are invariably lush and insightful. Recorded in four different sessions and backed by different orchestras at each venue, the thirteen tracks here - several recitatives and arias, three duets and one trio - have a thankfully seamless quality in spite of the variability of dramatic interpretations. The lead-off player is soprano Anna Netrebko, who sings on six tracks including a coquettish take on Susanna's recitative and aria, "Giunse alfin il momento...Deh vieni, non tardar" from "Le nozze di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro)". A passionate singer with a voice just ripening now, she plays both sides of the coin with selections from "Idomeneo" - first in a vengeful rage as Elettra with "Oh smania! Oh furie...D'Oreste, d'Aiace" and later as the sweet Ilia on "Zeffiretti lusinghieri".
Netrebko's Italianate diction and sumptuous voice are well suited for Ilia's aria, but her relative youth works against her as Elettra since she lacks the consistent edge and intimidating persona needed. My favorite of her pieces is actually her Donna Anna in the "Don Giovanni" duet with the exceptional tenor Christoph Strehl on "Fuggi, crudele, fuggi!", in which she feverishly transitions from her character's distraught mental state to a conniving mindset as her lover Don Ottavio pleads with her. Netrebko has another noteworthy albeit brief duet with mezzo-soprano Elina Garanca as they poignantly play the lovers Annio and Servilia on "Ah, perdona al primo affetto" from "La clemenza di Tito". In another pants role, Garanca is impressively stentorian in Sesto's forlorn lament, "Parto, parto, ma tu, ben mio" from the same opera.
The singer who sounds like he is having the most fun on the disc is baritone Thomas Quasthoff, who covers arias from "Don Giovanni" - first as the devoted servant Leporello in the comic "Madamina, il catalogo è questo" and then in the title role seducing Netrebko's Zerlina on the seductively yearning duet, "Là ci darem la mano". As Papageno, Quasthoff captures the bird catcher's delicate romanticism in "Der Vogelfänger bin ich ja" from "Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute)". From the same opera, German bass René Pape lends a haunting, voluminous ripeness to Sarastro's aria, "In dieson heil'gen Hallen", while Hungarian soprano Erika Miklósa is a bit too showy for my taste as the Queen of the Night on the vocally ornate "Der Hölle Rache kocht in meinem Herzen".
Bass-baritone Bryn Terfel effectively conveys the Count's flamboyant jealousy on "Ho già vintò la causa!...Vedro mentr'io sospiro" from "Le nozze di Figaro", though unfortunately his contribution as Don Alfonso to the final trio, "Soave sia il vento" from "Cosi fan tutte", is strictly by-the-numbers with sopranos Christine Rice and Miah Persson equally lackluster. Regardless, the orchestral accompaniment is expert on all the tracks with the estimable Claudio Abbado conducting on six pieces (including most of Netrebko's solos), Sebastian Weigle on five pieces and Charles Mackerras on the two Terfel tracks. If not a complete success, this is a fine recording which spotlights several of the best singers around today."
Robert M. Zilli | High in the Rocky Mountains | 10/30/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Four stars for me is a top rated disc, make no mistake-there are maybe 10 five star albums I''ve heard in my life. The performances are both accurate and inspired and, in this rare instance, I enjoy the blend of music from different Mozart pieces. Newcomer (well, sort of) Elina Garanca is outstanding and, I believe, will likely be the one of this crop we are still talking about in 10 years"