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Cecilia Bartoli Sings Mozart (2002)

TV Movie  -  Music
8.3
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Filmed at the Styriate Festival in Graz Austria, Maestro Nikolaus Harnoncourt and his orchestra Concentus Musicus Wien collaborates with the world acclaimed mezzo-soprano Cecilia Bartoli in... See full summary »

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Title: Cecilia Bartoli Sings Mozart (TV Movie 2002)

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Cecilia Bartoli ...
Mezzo-soprano
Nikolaus Harnoncourt ...
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Concentus musicus Wien ...
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Filmed at the Styriate Festival in Graz Austria, Maestro Nikolaus Harnoncourt and his orchestra Concentus Musicus Wien collaborates with the world acclaimed mezzo-soprano Cecilia Bartoli in a concert of rarely performed Mozart arias and Symphony No.38, the "Prague". Harnoncourt founded the orchestra with his violinist wife Alice in 1953. The ensemble is world renown for perfomances of early music on original instruments. A unique concert of virtuoso singing and orchestral style. Written by Josef d'Bache-Kane

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Cecilia Bartoli, Nikolaus Harnoncout: Mozart  »

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Nikolaus and Cecilia meet Wolfgang.
7 November 2004 | by (New York, NY) – See all my reviews

This DVD, the companion to the Haydn one, is also a part of the Styriarte Festival in Graz, Austria and, like the other disk, is filmed under the direction of the inevitable Brian Large.

Miss Bartoli has worked extensively with Harnoncourt and, of course, is a well-known vocal phenomenon though she has a good deal of intelligence and musicality as well. She has researched a great deal of early music on her own but seems mostly to restrict herself to Italian language repertory. (Even on a Schubert CD, she uses Italian versions of these German Lieder.)

The singer starts off the program with 5 arias. The first is an aria inserted into an opera by Galuppi (libretto by Goldoni) with Mozart at 19 (1775) showing his early mastery, if not complete maturity. The others are from the late 1780s the highlight being "Bella mia fiamma, addio, a severe sight-reading test for the singer Josepha Duschek (not related to the pianist-composer J. L. Dussek but married to the older Czech composer Franz Xaver Duschek.) The last two before that are substitution arias for "The Marriage of Figaro".) One is performed by the ensemble in the style of a Viennese Waltz; I have no idea whether there is justification for this practice but I think it works.

The Symphony #38 is subtitled "Prague" and has, in common with Don Giovanni, the main key of D minor which it clearly resembles. Unlike many of Mozart's other Symphonies, it has no minuet and is only in three movements, not unusual either. One of my interests in this Symphony is that a contrasting theme in the slow movement may be the most likely candidate for the source of Elgar's "Enigma" theme. (I did a MIDI sequence of the Variations.)

Harnoncourt's approach is quite consistent at this point. Though he uses period instruments in his Concertus Musicus ensemble, he was one of the early pioneers in that practice, he seems to favor a rather Romantic concept with generally wispy string sounds in the soft passages, extreme contrasts between loud and soft (as if to show how Beethoven is anticipated by Mozart, a questionable practice in my opinion.) and rather free tempos throughout. I would have liked it if, somewhere on this DVD, Harnoncourt was interviewed with a view towards explaining his approach instead of the long and sometimes repetitious rehearsal clips.

How the concert was filmed (live) is quite interesting especially since they used robotic cameras put into the orchestra to film some of the players, including my "favorite" flutist from the Haydn disk.

Despite my intermittent disagreement with Harnoncourt's approach, I would again give this, like the Haydn, a 9 out of 10.


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