LABELS: Berlin Classics
WORKS: Opera arias
PERFORMER: Hermann Prey (baritone); Dresden Staatskapelle/Otmar Suitner
CATALOGUE NO: 0093752 BC ADD Reissue (1965)
The late Hermann Prey’s 1965 Mozart collection takes in a number of roles he sang on stage, though he was less well suited to some (Don Giovanni, Masetto, the Count in Figaro) than others. His Guglielmo (Così fan tutte) is engagingly bluff and macho with the voice nicely scaled to the music and its range of colour fully deployed in the realisation of a lively character. Even better is his Papageno (The Magic Flute), which demonstrates a perfect balance of notes and words and is phrased with care and imagination. Nothing in this reading is cute or self-conscious, and the result is near ideal.
Justin Lavender’s assembly of tenor roles covers just as wide a range and his vigour in recitative and bright forward tone are assets throughout – though the recording seems to set him at some distance. His Italian is good and there’s some graceful phrasing, but the voice itself is inclined to overpower the music and the tone is lacking in variety – one might not suppose these to be different characters in diverse situations. In addition, some of the runs are smudgy. Howard Williams and the Bournemouth Sinfonietta deliver the accompaniments neatly and sweetly. George Hall