Mozart: Die Entführung aus dem Serail

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Mozart
LABELS: DG Originals
WORKS: Die Entführung aus dem Serail
PERFORMER: Walter Franck, Ernst Haefliger, Maria Stader, Rita Streich, Josef Greindl; RIAS SO & Chamber Choir/Ferenc Fricsay
CATALOGUE NO: 457 730-2 ADD mono Reissue (1954)
Mozart’s oriental Singspiel has done well on disc. Among recent recordings, John Eliot Gardiner’s period-instrument version on DG offers lively tempi and perhaps the lushest Konstanze (Luba Orgonasova), while Nikolaus Harnoncourt’s earlier, even harder-driven modern-instrument (but period-inflected) performance on Teldec, with Peter Schreier a limpid Belmonte, includes some really primitive percussion in the Turkish music. Jochum’s 1965 Bavarian State Opera recording dates from cosier times: plus points are the lyrically elegant, if somewhat disengaged, Belmonte of Fritz Wunderlich (caught at his peak less than a year before his fatal fall) and cavernous comic basso of Kurt Böhme; a big minus is Erika Köth’s ‘petite’ Konstanze, her coloratura brittle, bell-like and utterly soulless.

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Fricsay’s Berlin-based account of 1954 is made of altogether tougher stuff, pre-empting the authenticists in its sinewy, pared-down textures and sharper-edged, more dramatic solo singing. Ernst Haefliger is a properly plangent Belmonte, Josef Greindl a dark and dangerous Osmin, Maria Stader a warmer, more womanly captive (no Dresden china doll), her coloratura less effortless but far more expressive. The set is mono, but comes with full text and Mozart’s Exsultate as a bonus. Mark Pappenheim