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Reviews: Mozart: The Marriage of Figaro - René Jacobs

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Reviews: 5

Review by igy137 March 24, 2005 (2 of 19 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
The whole package is really nice, to start with some positive things.
Unfortunately I cannot really tell much about sonic quality, since I could hear that only on a below-avarage system so far, so I advance a 5 for it.

Performance. It's very nice to see a description of concepts and decision taken on tempos, ornaments, etc. It seems they really spent time to work on that and to have a well established base for everything.
However, the ornaments, even with the one-page description of rational and theory and everything behind them, in my opinion just not fit into the music. For me they're ruining the whole music, the structure, and I hardly can listen to this CD without getting really frustrated by them.

So, this might be a great recording for some, and not really that for others.
Strongly suggest a listening before buying that!

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Review by mba_overlord March 24, 2005 (15 of 16 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
I must respectfully beg to differ with the previous reviewer. How can you rate something that you haven't really heard in a realistic environment? Also, how can you rate the artistic merits of a production without citing any specific quibbles or shortcomings of the performance.

My wife and I (she's a musicologist who teaches Mozart at an Ivy League university) have thoroughly enjoyed this performance of Figaro. The cast is youthful sounding and energetic. I commend the singers for actually interpreting the music rather than treating it as a static museum piece. You can easily hear the lively interpretations of each of the main characters. Figaro should sound like an impish trouble maker. The recording nicely captures the essence of theatrical opera experience.

I also own an older recording of this opera with an all star cast consisting of Kiri Te Kanawa, Frederica von Stade, Samuel Ramey, and Kurt Moll singing with the London Philharmonic Orchestra led by Georg Solti. The René Jacobs Figaro blows this recording away from a sonic and artistic standpoint. Te Kanawa and von Stade both possess lovely voices. Nevertheless, you never get the sense that they are really trying to interpret their characters at all. The performance is mannered and stilted despite all the pretty voices associated with it.

As for sound, this set represents one of harmondia mundi's better efforts. Sound staging is capacious and you can hear the players nicely arrayed. The period orchestra sounds lovely . . . the strings are especially vibrant and warm. We need more recordings like this one. Bravo Harmonia Mundi!

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Review by flathead March 25, 2005 (11 of 11 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
A fantastic recording. If you want only one copy of The Marriage of Figaro, this is it. The SACD recording will make a believer out of you regarding the SACD format as the best format for classical music recoding and playback that is available today. The soundstage is huge, the nuances that you can hear, the subtle changes in the voices of Veronique Gens (soprano), Patrizia Ciofi (soprano), Angelika Kirchschlager (mezzo-soprano), Lorenzo Regazzo (baritone),Simon Keenlyside (baritone)are astounding. I have said this in other reviews, but SACD really enables the emotional content of the music to come through. It is a great recording and a great performance.

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Review by c.p. November 30, 2008 (4 of 6 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
Though it's not noted here, this is in fact a DSD recording, meaning it was recorded with SA-CD in mind, not simply made SA-CD later in a more convoluted, "artificial" way. And so I'd like to recommend it not only for the performances, but for the sound quality. The result is precious. I've not had the opportunity to attend a Jacobs performance in person. This must surely be the next best thing. And the good news is I can keep going back for free.

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Review by lennyw December 6, 2010 (7 of 7 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
This is my first review on this site, and I add it as someone who is quite frustrated by the bulk of large ensemble classical music SACDs I've so far listened to have been so poorly mixed (only just bought an SACD player, having been shocked that the Sony XA5400ES has gone out of production).

This one is essentially a prefect recording, and it's a tragedy that Harmonia Mundi no longer produce SACDs (I worked for them when SACD was launched, and it was not handled well by either the company, retailers, the press or the HiFi companies). The stereo image is fantastic with a great balance between singers and orchestra (as my better-half said: "It really sounds like they're in the room"). Not something we've thought about many of the other modern SACDs we've listened to (SFSO, RCO Live, Hyperion to name a few).

If you can pick this up somewhere, then I thoroughly recommend it.

The performance is utterly Jacobs, and it won't be to everyone's taste. But it is completely valid and committed, and for anyone who's a fan of the opera (and if you're not, what's wrong with you), this is a must buy. There won't be many other ensembles of this calibre allowed to record an opera on SACD, so get it while you still can.

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