Henneberg, Mozart, Schack, Gerl, Schikaneder

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Gerl,Henneberg,Mozart,Schack,Schikaneder
LABELS: Telarc
WORKS: Der Stein der Weisen
PERFORMER: Chris Pedro Trakas, Judith Lovat, Paul Austin Kelly, Alan Ewing, Kurt Streit; Boston Baroque/Martin Pearlman
The Philosopher’s Stone was a major production by the company which a year later presented Mozart’s The Magic Flute. The works show many points of contact including a variety of style less surprising in a work involving five composers. The story-line makes the Flute seem a model of rationality; symbolism is hardly noticeable amid the pantomime, and nothing matches Mozart’s Masonic grandeur. The warring demons cannot be taken seriously, but human emotions are strongly projected. The great discovery is the music of the largest contributor, Johann Baptist Henneberg, much of which might be considered better Mozart than the atypical cat duets Mozart actually wrote. Henneberg’s musical range includes the sombre and stormy as well as the charming and comic; the matching styles of Schack and Gerl achieving a result more showy, yet simpler, than Mozart. The numerous cast does the music ample justice, while reminding us that this repertoire is not intended for great voices; Giering-De Haan mews prettily, but Deas is a little solemn in the Schikaneder role; virtuosic passages for the heroine Nadine (Lovat) and the ‘good’ demon (Streit) show some strain. The period band is excellent, Pearson’s direction is stylish and lively, and overall it is delightful. Julian Rushton