Mozart: 12 Variations in B flat, K500; Minuet in D, K355

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2.0 out of 5 star rating 2.0

WORKS: 12 Variations in B flat, K500; Minuet in D, K355
PERFORMER: Julianne Baird (soprano), Colin Tilney (fortepiano)
With a flurry of Mozart songs appearing two years ago in Mozart-Jahr, and with excellent recitals by Peter Schreier, Barbara Bonney and Edith Mathis already in the catalogue, this compilation seems a bit late and a bit superfluous, too. Its raison d’être is ‘authenticity’: Julianne Baird, according to her biography, is something of a specialist in the period performance of Baroque opera and oratorio. This, of course, is not to say that she can sing Mozart expertly.


With the accompaniment of Colin Tilney’s fortepiano to add credibility, Baird is sparing on both vibrato and breath, short-bowing each note, as it were, and apparently fearful lest expressive overload should break the back of any song. The result is a melt-in-the-mouth vocalism, unremittingly smiling in tone.


This does very nicely for songs like ‘Die Zufriedenheit’ (Content) and ‘An Chloe’, but the pain and pleasure of songs such as the despairing ‘Sei du mein Trost’, and ‘Das Lied der Trennung’ pass by in the same bland emotional register. Baird’s pleasant small-scale natural voice is flattered by the glow of a resonant acoustic which fails, however, to compensate for the lack of interpretative depth and breadth. Hilary Finch