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Magic Mozart

Sandrine Piau (soprano), Lea Desandre (mezzo-soprano), et al; Insula Orchestra/Laurence Equilbey (Erato)

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

Magic Mozart – Arias from The Magic Flute, The Marriage of Figaro, Così Fan Tutte, Don Giovanni, Bastien and Bastienne, etc
Sandrine Piau, Jodie Devos (soprano), Lea Desandre (mezzo-soprano), Stanislas de Barbeyrac, Loïc Félix (tenor), Florian Sempey (baritone); Insula Orchestra/Laurence Equilbey
Erato 9029526197   71:17 mins


Here’s an engaging introduction to sparkling gems from Mozart’s operas. The booklet explains, with some dubious stereotyping, that the ‘magic’ in the title refers to three types: ‘black’ magic (the Queen of the Night, Don Giovanni, etc), ‘white’ benign magic (Papageno, Barbarina, etc) and the ‘red’ magic of passion (Figaro’s Countess, Cherubino, etc). To these we should add the magic of Mozart’s genius as three of the items – from Gallimathias Musicum, Bastien und Bastienne, and La finta semplice – were written by the time he was 12.

Jodie Devos’s agile soprano is both bright and menacing in the famous Queen of the Night set piece, though in one of Mozart’s loveliest arias, ‘Vorrei Spiegarvi’, the tenderness is slightly masked. Sandrine Piau, of course, is immensely experienced and it is good to hear her now in the role of the Countess from Figaro where she is affecting (though her trills can be somewhat impressionistic). The revelation here is the young mezzo Lea Desandre, who gives sparkling accounts of Cherubino’s music, and of Mozart’s ‘Cat duet’, ‘Nun liebes Weibchen’, discovered only in 1996. The two tenors, Stanislas de Barbeyrac and Loïc Félix, are nicely contrasted (the former a light, expressive Tamino, the latter a spirited conveyor of the sword fight in La finta semplice), and the bass Florian Semprey is robust and comical by turn. The orchestra, under the very musical guidance of Laurence Equilbey, is wonderfully alert and stylish throughout.

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Anthony Pryer