Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert

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COMPOSERS: Beethoven and Schubert,Haydn,Mozart
LABELS: Warner
ALBUM TITLE: Thomas Hampson: Arias
WORKS: Arias by Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert
PERFORMER: Thomas Hampson (baritone); Concentus musicus Wien/Nikolaus Harnoncourt
CATALOGUE NO: 2564 62257-2
Arias by Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert


Thomas Hampson (baritone); Concentus musicus Wien/Nikolaus Harnoncourt

Warner 2564 62257-2 61:22 mins £ £ £

Where does Mozart refer to Canada and to Aesop within a single aria? Così fanciers will know the answer: it occurs in ‘Rivolgete a lui lo sguardo’, written as an alternative to Guglielmo’s patter-song ‘Non siate ritrosi’, and to flatter the ego of Mozart’s star Italian bass, Francesco Benucci (‘you will not find our equals from Vienna to Canada… We are as well-educated as Aesop’). This, and other curiosities, turn up in Thomas Hampson’s latest disc and, with the exception of the two arias from Schubert’s ill-fated opera Alfonso e Estrella, they need something of a harder sell than either Hampson or Harnoncourt seem willing to give.

The Guglielmo aria needs, perhaps, both an audience and a basso più profondo for its over-the-top mock-heroics to be really excitingly projected. And the erotic double-entendres within Beethoven’s Singspielesque ‘Mit Mädeln sich vertragen’ are as well-mannered as the playing of the Concentus musicus Wien. But everyone enjoys the ‘Turkish’ music of Mozart’s calculatedly jingoistic ‘Ich möchte wohl der Kaiser sein!’, and the sweet gentility of two of Haydn’s insertion arias for Eszterháza.


The best music and performances belong to Schubert: Alfonso e Estrella’s greeting to the sun, ‘Sei mir gegrüßt’, gently and movingly bows the knee to both the Haydn of The Creation and the Mozart of The Magic Flute. Hilary Finch