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  Amati -
  AMI 2301/3 (3 discs)
  Mozart: Die Zauberflöte - Kuijken
  Mozart: Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute)

Isolde Siebert (Königin der Nacht)
Suzy Le Blanc (Pamina)
Christoph Genz (Tamino)
Cornelius Hauptmann (Sarastro)
Stephan Genz (Papageno)
Marie Kuijken (Papagena)
Knaben des Tölzer Knabenchors
Chor und Orchester La Petite Bande
Sigiswald Kuijken (conductor)
Track listing:
  Classical - Opera
Recording type:
Recording info:

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Related titles: 5

Reviews: 3
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Site review by Adrian Cue June 24, 2014
Performance:   Sonics:  
Die Zauberflöte revisited.

The other day I was able to lay my hand on this set for ‘a song’. One wonders why. I do know now.

Let me begin by saying that the other reviewers are absolutely right about the orchestra. Indeed, hats off for Kuijken and his musicians. In short: A Small Band with Great Sound.

As for the singers: May be not all the very best available, but all the same first rate, with l’Acadienne Suzy LeBlanc as an excellent Pamina and Isolde Siebert as an accomplished ‘Queen of the Night’. I like the ‘light’ singing. For my taste Mozart is not so much for Drama, Diva’s and Heldentenors.

I don’t think that it is a DSD recording. The technical info makes no mention of it and if it does not say so it most probably isn’t. But for capturing a church performance (Basilica Notre Dame in Baune, France) it is not bad at all and it is evident that a fair amount of reverberance comes with the chosen venue.

My reason for writing these lines is twofold.

In the first place the extensive dialogue in German (as already mentioned in the discussion). It poses several problems: if you cut it short, the story loses its meaning; if you keep it all, than it becomes more of a stage play with musical accompaniment. For non-German speakers perhaps too difficult to digest. But that is not all. The delivery of the text is more declamatory than forming an integral part of an entertaining ‘musical’.

Kuijken explains in his liner notes (‘Eine Anmerkung über die Art der Deklamation in dieser Zauberflöte Produktion’; only as an addition to the German text!) that such was customary in Mozart’s time. But is that a sufficient reason to keep it that way. I think not.

A more serious concern, however, is the multi-channel mix. This is, in fact, pretty disastrous.

[I do note that both reviewers seemed to have listened in stereo only (no multi stars given) and may, therefore, have missed this aspect.]

I must assume that this has not been done by accident, but on purpose, to make it sound more spatial. Not so much coming from everywhere and nowhere, but, unfortunately, broken up in ‘front’ and ‘back’, whereby the orchestra, choir and soloists seem to be deliberately distributed all around. I find it disturbing if (for instance) the sound of the Magic Glockenspiel is in front of you and the singer (Papageno) behind right. Such incoherent handling of the musical information risks breaking up the overall sound stage; thus spoiling the theatrical experience.

I should, in all honesty, add that I am not a great fan of ‘complete surround’. I prefer sitting in the audience. I find Tacet’s approach gimmicky (Tchaikovsky’s piano trio with the players hopping from one corner of the listening room to another as my worst example) and 2L’s placing the orchestra around the microphones (Mozart violin concerto) just acceptable for ‘a special experience’.

But an opera…? Being somewhere ‘in the middle of the action’, having to turn around all the time to face this or that happening on stage?

To sum it all up: the singing is excellent in its own right, the music is compelling, the sound is as good as it gets in a church, but… the multi-channel mix is artificially ‘swimming’ and distractive, to say the least, and the stage play is ‘out of date’.

As always, tastes differ and some may like it this way, but I thought it best to warn Mozart opera aficionados of what to expect before buying this set, keeping in mind, though, that there is no alternative on SACD-MC.

(N.B. the same recording is available on Brilliant Classics in RBCD stereo)

Copyright © 2014 Adrian Quanjer and

Review by Julien July 29, 2007 (13 of 21 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
Oh my... This recording desperately needs a review.

When you think that this near-perfection performance was live, it is even more impressive. As we say in French, you'd have to get up early to be able to imagine better. The orchestra and the singers combined are among the finest I've heard in a performance.

It is quite interesting to think back a few decades ago when period instruments had many intonation issues and were widely criticized for it. Well, I dare to say that no string section of any symphonic orchestra plays that it tune, and it is not because there are less people here. A chamber string orchestra would not be able to play that in tune either. The reason is simply because the gut strings are so sensible needing to be re-tuned all the time that period ensembles pay just much more attention to intonation. Another reason is that they play sustained notes with much less vibrato, sometimes not at all, which makes harmonies sound a lot purer.
Why do I always pay so much attention to intonation? Because when you have harmonies it is half the beauty of the music.

The singing too is fantastic (outstandingly in tune also...). I won't go into too many details, but I especially love Isolde Siebert as the Queen of the Night (what a voice!), Stephan Genz as Papageno is so moving (he speaks while singing it's wonderful), and Suzie LeBlanc as Pamina has a very pure voice and an amazing sensibility. Also figuring are Christoph Genz as Tamino and Cornelius Hauptmann as Sarastro.

Not to forget on this site, the recording is beautiful, sounds like pure DSD to me, the timbre of all the intruments and the voices is very full and accurate. I like the overall balance, and also the dynamic range is huge and realistic. It is close in a good way, I feel that I'm breathing on the stage.

I have always admired the Kuijken brothers for being among the pioneers in the field of period informed playing and actually always keeping themselves among the elite. Sigiswald Kuijken has now recorded quite a few excellent SACDs for different companies, which makes me think that maybe unlike most artists who record SACDs and have no idea what SACD is (do you guys believe that? It is true.), Kuijken might be one of those who knows of the format, wants quality and also thinks for posterity.

Hats off.

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Review by progboy December 24, 2012 (4 of 7 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
I was seeking a good quality interpretation of Mozart's "The Magic Flute" ever since I bought my SACD player and Kuijken's 3 SACD set was always priced a bit out of my league until a few weeks ago when I found it NEW on Amazon for $ 14.98 US. It looks like since then the price has been jacked back up but keep your eye cause this treasure is well worth hunting down.

Ok so I guess you really don't care how much I paid for this gem and are much more interested in my impression of this recording and the SACD sonic performance.

Lets start with the recording....simply brilliant.....Mozart's famous opera really is a deep moving piece that tell a magical little story of Tamino and his bird friend Papagno in his quest to free his love, slay the serpent and face evil along the way...including the Queen Of The Night and the evil Sarastro. The cast are superb and you really could not ask for a more talented people! I find this hard to believe it was recorded live as the sound is so pure and there is very little background noise to distract you. Mozart was famous for his harmonies and lovely melodies and no question this opera reveals both of these aspects. In fact this recording is a necessity for fans of "The Magic Flute".
Because this is an entire opera you should be aware that a good chunk of the album is speaking as the story unfolds and music is interwoven throughout.

Now to the sound.....ok this is crazy good......the orchestra is pure, quite bright and rich....this is the sound that Classical music should be like! The vocals are well mic'd and considering this was live there is really no vocal drops or microphone issues as we listen. The opera was really carefully recorded and beautifully mastered to SACD.

This opera premiered in Vienna on Sept 30th 1791 with Mozart himself conducting the orchestra. While Mozart wrote all the music, the narrative and story was penned by Emanuel Schikaneder.

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Works: 1  

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart - Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute), K. 620