Bryn Terfel: Tutto Mozart!

This recording is a fine opportunity for those familiar with Terfelís voice to appreciate the depth of Mozart roles the singer has performed over the years, which includes familiar characters like Papageno in Die Zauberflˆte, Figaro in Le nozze di Figaro, title character and Leporello in Don Giovanni. At the same time, this recording, which was made in April 2006, affords listeners the opportunity to hear Terfel performing some fine examples from CosÏ fan tutte, Bastien und Bastienne, as well as selections from Mozartís concert arias. It is an excellent opportunity to hear Terfel perform music in which he excels, since he has a voice and stage presence to make characters like Papageno come alive. In the excerpt included in this recording, Miah Persson offers a well-articulated Papagena to Terfelís fine performance. In working well together, the enunciation of the texts is clear and points to that aspect of Terfelís approach to this literature in balancing the text with the musical phrases. The excerpt that follows, the first-act ìCatalogueî aria from Don Giovanni, Terfel shapes the well-known text to give meaning ñ however ironic or humorous ñ to Don Giovanniís list of questionable accomplishments. As an popular Leporello on stage, Terfelís experience in the role is apparent in this recording, and his phrasing of the middle section of the ìCatalogueî aria is memorable for its nuanced interpretation of this quintessential number from Don Giovanni.
In material less often heard or, in some cases, not always associated with Terfel, their inclusion in this recording makes Tutto Mozart! more than a compilation of famous pieces extracted from their sources. Some little-known pieces are highly effective in Terfelís performances, such as ìIo ti lascio,î K. Anh. 245 (621a), a piece associated with another composer, Gottfried von Jaquin. Yet the more often heard concert arias are a fine source of music for this collection, with ìCosÏ dunque tradisciî an effective piece for baritone, and performed well by Terfel.
In some cases the less familiar selections include music associated with Mozart, such as ìNun, liebes Weibchen,î a number in the collectively composed opera Der Stein der Weisen, which Benedikt Schack composed and Mozart orchestrated. A case may be made for comprehending Mozartís achievement in Die Zauberflˆte in the context of the earlier work, Der Stein der Weisen, and with the inclusion of ìNun, liebes Weibchenî in this recording, the idiom in which Mozart worked becomes evident. In following this selection with ìDer Vogelf‰nger bin ich, jaî from Die Zauberflˆte, the style of vocal writing associated with Viennese Singspiel in Mozartís circle becomes evident as a vehicle for expressing the humor of situations and helping to flesh out characters. As much as Singspiel could involve stock characters, it took a composer like Mozart to bring the idiom closer to opera in this regard. Along these lines, then the details that Terfel brings to performance are useful in showing the full power of Mozartís music, even in works associated with a lighter, perhaps, more popular style.
As such, Tutto Mozart! also offers audiences the chance to hear the way in which Mozart shaped the vocal demands for the baritone in some of his most influential works. While the role assigned the baritone in the composerís early comic opera Bastien und Bastienne may be relatively perfunctory when compared to some of Mozartís later baritone roles, especially those found in the Da Ponte works, the inclusion of music between the early and late Mozart is useful in presenting a fuller image of the roles of the baritone in this repertoire. The Don Alfonso of Mozartís CosÏ fan tutte has much more nuanced vocal demands that emerge well in the terzettino ìSovae sia il vento,î which involves Terfel, Persson, and Christine Rice. The three singers work well in this piece, and represent a nicely rehearsed ensemble.
This is a worthwhile addition to recent Mozart recordings and contributes nicely to the recorded legacy of Bryn Terfel. One should not need a Mozart anniversary to find such a wellóthought selection of music, and of the various projects recently completed, this one should stand well for years as testimony of Terfelís talent and a tribute to the art of the baritone. As with Charles Mackerasís other performances of Mozartís music, the interpretations are convincing, and the performances refined. The phrasing, articulations, and overall ensemble playing are appropriate to the fine music-making found on this CD.
James L. Zychowicz

image_description=Bryn Terfel: Tutto Mozart!
product_title=Bryn Terfel: Tutto Mozart!
product_by=Bryn Terfel, Miah Persson, Christine Rice, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Sir Charles Mackerras
product_id=Deutsche Grammophon 477 5886 [CD]