ALBUM TITLE: Mozart
WORKS: Die Entführung aus dem Serail
PERFORMER: Thomas Quasthoff, Rolando Villazón, Diana Damrau, Anna Prohaska, Paul Schweinester, Franz-Josef Selig; Vocalensemble Rastatt; Chamber Orchestra of Europe/ Yannick Nézet-Séguin
CATALOGUE NO: DG 479 4064
This is the third Mozart opera recorded by the Rolándo Villazón/Yannick Nézet-Séguin team, the other two being Don Giovanni (2012) and Così fan tutte (2013). As one might expect from a vivacious Spaniard and an experienced French-Canadian orchestral conductor there is some passionate singing here, as well as sparkling instrumental detail – the overture, for example, is full of witty contrasts and transparent textures, though it has to be said that this performance does not capture the Turkish elements quite as well as (say) Solti’s 1987 version on Decca.
The cast is of a very high standard though Villazón (Belmonte), despite being superbly lyrical, can lack a certain pliant tenderness (as in ‘O wie ängstlich’). Diana Damrau (Konstanze) is at her very best in the defiant aria ‘Martern aller Arten’, sustaining the intensity and high notes with ease, though (more controversially) she restores some cuts made in this aria by Mozart himself. Her immediately preceding aria (‘Traurigkeit’) is more problematic since it is less virtuosic but infinitely more nuanced, and her vibrato (especially on the sustained top F at the word ‘Klagen’) seems rather un-Mozartian. Franz-Josef Selig (as Osmin) has a rich and characterful voice, and his sparring partner Paul Schweinester (as Pedrillo) matches his mood changes and intricate tempo fluctuations perfectly. Also, we get some very effective singing from Anna Prohaska as Blonde who reaches her high E in ‘Durch Zärtlichkeit’ with aplomb, though she mostly stays away from added ornaments in repeats (unlike Patricia Petibon on the recording by William Christie on Erato, for example). Anthony Pryer