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Mozart: Die Zauberflöte / Abbado, Pape, et al

Album Summary

>Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus : Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute), K. 620
Performers Conductor Ensemble Composer

Notes & Reviews:

"Claudio Abbado's 'Magic Flute' sounds like a breath of fresh air...Since his own near-death experience during a grave illness, every piece he conducts has taken on a sense of existential urgency, including the Flute. One has seldom heard the work performed with such a light touch and effortless fluency, with such feeling for dramatic refinement and with the characters so musically alive." -Die Zeit

Gramophone Classical Music Guide
This is certainly the most desirable version using modern instruments to appear since Solti's second recording in 1990. That said, its characteristics are rather nearer William Christie's 1995 period-performance (reviewed above).

Abbado undertook the opera for the first time in performances in Italy in 2005, directed by his son (the production was seen at the 2006 Edinburgh Festival). On this occasion, he conducts a direct, keenly articulated, inspiriting account of the score, obviously aware of what has been achieved in recent times by the authenticists, yet when he reaches the work at its most Masonic - the Act 2 trio and the scene with the Armed Men, Tamino and Pamina - Abbado, directing his beloved Mahler Chamber Orchestra, gives the music its true and wondrous import. The playing throughout is alert and scrupulously articulated.

Casts varied between performances; here Abbado assembled one predominantly chosen from a youngish generation of German-speaking singers, each of whom approaches his or her role with fresh sound and interprets it in impeccably Mozartian style. The Tamino and Pamina are well nigh faultless. Tamino has been taken by many outstanding tenors on disc but Christoph Strehl sings with a Wunderlich-like strength and beauty, and rather more light and shade than his famous predecessor brought to the role. His is a wonderfully virile, vital reading that gives pleasure to the ear, as much in ensemble as in aria. He is partnered by Dorothea Röschmann, who has already appeared as Pamina at Covent Garden, and in many other houses. Her full-throated, positive singing, finely shaped, cleanly articulated, is a true match for Strehl's.

Hanno Müller-Brachmann is a properly lively and amusing Papageno, and delivers the role in a richer bass-baritone than many interpreters provide. He doesn't attempt a Viennese accent in the dialogue (a fairly full version), but brings plenty of simple humour to the part. The high and low roles are well catered for. The Hungarian coloratura Erika Miklósa has been making a speciality of Queen of Night over the past few years and shows just why in a technically secure and fiery account of her two arias. René Pape sings Sarastro: now at the peak of his career, he conveys all the role's gravity and dignity in a gloriously sung performance. Kurt Azesberger is a suitably nasty Monostatos.

Abbado allows a few neatly executed decorations. The extensive dialogue, spoken in a manner suitable for the theatre, sometimes sounds over-emphatic in the home, with the Papagena as an old woman the worst culprit. The recording is reasonably well balanced. As a whole the performance conveys a welcome immediacy and spontaneity and the daring of Abbado's way with the score is very alluring.

Penguin Guide
...a triumphant success. René Pape's magnificent Sarastro dominates the opera, just as intended...But most magical of all are the little vocal ensembles, wonderfully warm and refined...this is above all an affectionately relaxed performance, with Abbado continually revelling in the lyrical beauty of Mozart's wonderful score.


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Works Details

>Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus : Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute), K. 620
  • Performers: Kurt Azesberger (Tenor); Andreas Bauer (Bass); Tobias Beyer (Spoken Vocals); Sascha Borris (Bass); Danilo Formaggia (Tenor); Frederic Jost (Boy Soprano); Julia Kleiter (Soprano); Alexander Lischke (Boy Soprano); Niklas Mallmann (Boy Alto); Erika Miklósa (Voice); Hanno Muller-Brachmann (Soprano); René Pape (Bass); Dorothea Röschmann (Soprano); Anne-Carolyn Schlüter (Mezzo Soprano); Caroline Stein (Soprano); Christoph Strehl (Tenor); Heidi Zehnder (Soprano); Georg Zeppenfeld (Voice)
  • Conductor: Claudio Abbado
  • Ensemble: Arnold Schoenberg Choir
  • Running Time: 77 min. 21 sec.
  • Period Time: Classical
  • Form: Opera/Operetta
  • Written: 1791