Mozart in Milan
Robin Johannsen (soprano), Carlo Vistoli (countertenor), Raffaele Giordani (tenor), Alessandro Ravasio (bass); Coro e Orchestra Ghislieri/Giulio Prandi (Arcana)
Mozart in Milan
JC Bach: Dixit Dominus in D; Magnificat a 4 in C; Chiesa: Caelo tonanti; Fiorini: O sacrum convivium; Mozart: Exsultate, jubilate, K165; Misericordias Domini – Offertory, K222
Robin Johannsen (soprano), Carlo Vistoli (countertenor), Raffaele Giordani (tenor), Alessandro Ravasio (bass); Coro e Orchestra Ghislieri/Giulio Prandi
Arcana A538 76:50 mins
Mozart was 14 when he arrived in Milan for the first time. He’d visit twice more, and for the city he wrote three operas including Mitridate and Lucia Silla. But church music also flourished, and Giulio Prandi sets out to place the teenage Mozart’s most celebrated sacred contribution to Milan’s musical life – the Exsultate Jubilate – in a wider context. Bookended between a Dixit Dominus and Magnificat by Wolfgang’s friend and mentor JC Bach (who had served as organist at the cathedral a decade earlier), the album includes a well-made if not especially memorable motet by Giovanni Fioroni, and another for alto and orchestra by the all-but-forgotten Melchiorre Chiesa, a musician active in the opera house and keyboardist for the premiere of Mitridate. Rounding out the portrait is the young Mozart’s Misericordias Domini of 1775 which attempts to inject a little secular charm into the more austere church style; but compositionally it’s the Exsultate Jubilate that carries all before it – even if, for all her impressive coloratura fireworks, soprano Robin Johannsen is less characterful than some. She’s sensitively accompanied by Prandi’s period instrument orchestra, and he conjures up plenty of purposeful snap, crackle and pop to launch JC Bach’s Dixit Dominus. It’s a work nonetheless eclipsed by his Magnificat setting – which again encourages an aura of self-confident grandeur at the outset.
Despite a penchant for lively tempos, a certain earnestness sometimes invades Prandi’s stylish direction, but he opens a fascinating window onto the Milanese milieu that greeted Mozart away from the opera house.