LABELS: Harmonia Mundi
ALBUM TITLE: Mozart
WORKS: The Abduction from the Seraglio
PERFORMER: Mari Eriksmoen, Julian Prégardien, Maximilian Schmitt, Robin Johannsen, Dimitry Ivashchenko; RIAS Kammerchor; Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin/ René Jacobs
CATALOGUE NO: Harmonia Mundi HMC 902214.15
Here’s another Mozart Singspiel recreated as an audio-drama, with both René Jacobs’s intensely musical direction, orchestral playing tingling with character and detail – and, as in his Die Zauberflöte, with the fortepiano an all-important member of the cast. Like it or loathe it, the fortepiano again provides what Jacobs calls ‘musicalisation’ for the dialogue, improvising, preluding, reminiscing and anticipating. (During the escape attempt, it does begin to sound rather like the music for a silent movie…) I happen to find all of this irresistibly Mozartian in spirit. There are other surprises, too: a sparkly Turkish March by Michael Haydn, inserted before the arrival of the Janissary band; and some rather over-enthusiastic birdsong in the Pasha’s garden.
Well – so far, so good. Dimitry Ivashchenko’s Osmin is a true basso profundo, always droll but never overdone. Julian Prégardien’s Pedrillo is delightfully whimsical, and delectably phrased: his ‘Frisch zum Kampfe’ is a piece of perfection. And in Mari Eriksmoen he has a bright-eyed and feisty Blonde, spinning the finest lines of embellishment and ornamentation. Elsewhere, though, the casting leaves one feeling a little vocally short-changed. Maximilian Schmitt’s Belmonte, though a fragrant and ardent tenor, is a little lightweight, as is Robin Johannsen’s Konstanze – shrill and thin at the top, in a performance which needs more vocal body and more embodiment.
So, a classic Jacobs take on Mozartian Singspiel, imaginative and user-friendly throughout (Charles Johnston’s fine English translation in the booklet makes a worthy contribution). Less impressive all round, though, than Jacobs’s Die Zauberflöte.