Christian Gerhaher sings Mozart opera arias

'The pleasure of this Mozartian anthology lies not so much in individual characterisation as in the powerful personal dramaturgy with which Gerhaher shapes his programme'

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COMPOSERS: Mozart
LABELS: Sony
ALBUM TITLE: Mozart
WORKS: Arias from Don Giovanni, The Marriage of Figaro, Così fan tutte & The Magic Flute
PERFORMER: Christian Gerhaher (baritone); Freiburg Baroque Orchestra/ Gottfried von der Goltz

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Many a voice-fancier would love nothing more than to be serenaded by Christian Gerhaher – and, with Avi Avital’s eloquent mandolin accompaniment, who could resist this ‘Deh, vieni alla finestra’? But Don Giovanni is not, if truth be told, Gerhaher’s opera par excellence. Even as Leporello, he can’t really match the chuckle and mischief of the instrumental voices within the ‘Catalogue’ song, and droops into melancholy once too often.

Gerhaher’s Figaro and his Count are a better fit: he tastes every layer of subtext, irony and menace within both Figaro’s ‘Se vuol ballare’ and the Count’s ‘Hai gia vinta la causa’, a shrewdly handled recitative, loading the gun powerfully for ‘Vedro, mentr’io sospiro’. But the pleasure of this Mozartian anthology lies not so much in individual characterisation as in the powerful personal dramaturgy with which Gerhaher shapes his programme. The transformations of love, from tenderness to doubt, instability to cynicism and disillusion, form a little drama within itself. It’s shaped by movements of the Linz Symphony, superbly played by the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra. In Gerhaher’s own telling ordering, they tingle their way through the arias, robust and tactile in this close, high-fibre recording.

On the way, we meet Così’s Guglielmo, as Gerhaher’s crystalline enunciation articulates every chattering rhyme of ‘Non siate ritrosi’ and ‘Donne mie’. Best of all, there’s his irresistible Papageno, revealing every facet of the the character’s audacity and vulnerability.

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Hilary Finch