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Reviews: Mozart: La clemenza di Tito - Jacobs

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Reviews: 3

Site review by Polly Nomial April 22, 2006
Performance:   Sonics:    
The text for this review has been moved to the new site. You can read it here:

http://www.HRAudio.net/showmusic.php?title=3640#reviews

Review by jmvilleneuve July 8, 2007 (6 of 6 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
I bought this SACD first because I was curious at the multi-channel aspect of the recording such as the spatial relationship between singer and orchestra. I believed that this was one of Mozart’s earlier opera. In reading the instructive booklet I realized that this (relatively) unknown work was in fact composed at the same time than the Magic Flute in the middle of 1791.

This opera is less played because: 1-The libretto is terrible 2-Range for the “young men” singing roles are always a compromise, here they are sung by mezzos 3-recitative after each air (opera seria). The listener who takes the time to pass all these obstacles will be rewarded by absolutely divine music, Mozart at its best. One of the quality of this music is Mozart is both looking back at his own earlier music style, and looking forward pushing the classic style to its limit.

The recording is very dynamic and there is solid foundation in the mid-bass. Where it is a little less perfect is in the higher frequencies, the recording as a bit of a “digital” field that shows itself from time to time. Use of the surround speakers is moderate. Often the voices feel a few feet in front the main speakers, this is because there is more of their “echoes” in the back speakers which push them forward. This gives a nice separation between soloist and the orchestra. What works very well for a few voices with the orchestra in the back works less well when full chorus is used (the image is too diffuse and there is not a good spatial separation).

As one example, let’s look at Track 19 of SACD1 (Vitellia Non piu di fiori)

Sextus (Vitellia’s lover) is sung by Mezzo Bernarda Fink with tenderness and acceptance ( this really does not feel like the character is a man!). But the other star of this aria is a period clarinet played exceedingly well by Lorenzo Copolla. Here we really hear the Mozart of 1791 in particular the clarinet concerto (at the première of the Opéra this clarinet obligato was played by Anton Stadler Mozart’s friend which is the dedicate of the concerto). In term of spatial positioning, the mezzo is well in front with a rich projection, the clarinet is to the left a little in front of the full orchestra. Again there is a strong feeling of physical presence of our two stars in the room. This is absolute sublime music well worth the price of the SACD.


For a more complete review and many other multi-channel recording reviews check my website:

http://www.geocities.com/jmserre/ENMozartClemenceTitus.html

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Review by threerandot April 9, 2008 (5 of 5 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
René Jacobs proves a convincing and passionate leader in this exceptional recording of Mozart's La clemenza di Tito on Harmonia Mundi with The Freiburger Barockorchester.

I had never heard this opera before purchasing it. Such is my confidence in the music of Mozart. After all, Mozart wanted to write opera more than any other kind of music. This opera has been criticized over the decades for what is seen as its excessive use of recitatives. In Jacobs' hands, these recitatives never slow down the action, but keep things moving forward nicely. These are really beautifully performed recitatives.

As for the cast, this recording features an impressive group of singers, all of which, I am embarassed to admit, I have never heard of before hearing this recording. Mark Padmore has a beutiful tenor voice. Listen to him sing the "Del piu sublime soglio" in Scene 4, Act 1. Or listen to the duet between Marie-Claude Chappuis and Sunhae Im, "Ah perdona il primo affetto". Sublime singing!

I have to admit that this set is very handsomely packaged. This is my first Harmonia Mundi purchase and I am impressed. In the heavy cardboard box you get a 200 page booklet with the libretto, photographs and notes by the conductor. Jacobs has written an article included, "Seven misconceptions about La clemenza di Tito". Jacobs makes many important points about the opera, including the myths surrounding the origins of the opera, as well as the idea of cutting what have been traditionally seen as "too many recitatives". Jacobs not only makes important points about this in the article, but proves that cutting these recitatives is unnecessary by just listening to the recording itself.

The Freiburger Barockorchester are an exceptionally talented body of musicians on original instruments and provide stirring accompaniment to the lush voices in this recording. I paticularly appreciate the beauty of the brass and winds throughout.

The sound is open and warm and has a nice depth. There is also a pleasing amount of air around the sound. The engineers have also added some panning effects here and there to highlight the action at key moments for dramatic effect.

I think it will be hard to find a better recording than this one of Tito for quite some time. Jacobs has really thrown himself into reasearching this work and it shows. Although I do not play this often, when I do, it is a real treat and all lovers of Mozart Operas will want to add this to their collection.

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