Schubert: Die Zwillingsbrüder

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COMPOSERS: Schubert
LABELS: CPO
WORKS: Die Zwillingsbrüder
PERFORMER: Kurt Moll, Helen Donath, Nicolai Gedda, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau; Bavarian State Opera Chorus & Orchestra/Wolfgang Sawallisch
CATALOGUE NO: 999 556-2 ADD
CPO’s series of opera reissues offers some rarely heard gems, including these two Singspiels, for which collectors should be grateful. While Mendelssohn’s Die beiden Pädagogen and Schubert’s Die Zwillingsbrüder (which both date from the first quarter of the 19th century) show Mozart’s lasting influence, they also display the fresh inspiration of their youthful composers.

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Die beiden Pädagogen by the 12-year-old Mendelssohn is an enchanting piece. Fischer-Dieskau heads a splendid group of soloists who, with sensitive support by the Munich Radio Orchestra directed by Heinz Wallberg, give an excellent performance that winningly captures the score’s satirical wit and charm. The hilarious argument between the two pedagogues about rival educational methods is one of the highlights of this sparkling account, which is preserved in vivid sound.

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The cast in Die Zwillingsbrüder is likewise impressive, not least for its convincing portrayal of Schubert’s effective dramatic treatment of his subject. Although he failed as an opera composer, this piece did have moderate success at Vienna’s Kärntnertortheater during 1821. Delicious orchestral colours, simply tuneful vocal solos and ensembles such as the quintet ‘Packt ihn, führt ihn von Gericht’ (the musical and theatrical climax) provoke a rewarding reassessment of Schubert’s prowess as a composer for the stage. Nicholas Rast