Hasse: Piramo e Tisbe

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

LABELS: Capriccio
WORKS: Piramo e Tisbe
PERFORMER: Barbara Schlick, Ann Monoyios, Wilfried JochensLa Stagione/Michael Schneider
Charles Burney described Johann Adolf Hasse, his contemporary, as ‘the most natural, elegant and judicious composer of vocal music, as well as the most voluminous now alive…’ His output includes 63 operas, but only two are currently recorded, yet inexplicably this is the second Piramo, albeit markedly livelier and with the bonus of its two ballet suites.


Schneider’s perceptive booklet note comments that too readily we find such composers immature – ‘almost like Mozart’, rather than excitingly expressive and individual. Here even the subtitle Intermezzo tragico is novel, implying a fusion of two traditions, comic and serious. The music is equally unconventional. Recitatives slip seamlessly into and out of arias, creating a strong sense of dramatic continuity. Colours are imaginative: flutes and bassoons paint a beautiful description of Piramo’s Utopia; natural horns roar rudely as the lion approaches – though he proves a rather likeable beast in his subsequent sinfonia.


The performance is excellent. Monoyios, a gentle Tisbe, floats effortlessly in melting vocalises; Schlick’s Piramo contrasts, yet matches in their love duets; while Jochens, the domineering father, confirms in his remarkably jolly suicide aria that the final tragico stage, littered with the corpses of all three characters, is not to be taken too seriously. George Pratt