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  Harmonia Mundi -
  HMC 801964/66 (3 discs)
  Mozart: Don Giovanni - Jacobs
  Mozart: Don Giovanni

Johannes Weisser (baritone)
Lorenzo Regazzo (bass)
Alexandrina Pendatchanska (soprano)
Olga Pasichnyk (soprano)
Kenneth Tarver (tenor)
Sunhae Im (soprano)
Nikolay Borchev (bass)
Alessandro Guerzoni (bass)
RIAS Kammerchor
Freiburger Barockorchester
René Jacobs (conductor)
Track listing:
  Classical - Opera
Recording type:
Recording info:

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Related titles: 4

Reviews: 3

Review by seth October 7, 2007 (8 of 16 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
I have greatly enjoyed Jacobs' recordings of the two other Da Ponte opera for his creative reimagining of the dynamics and balances, as well as use of the continuo. Jacobs, though, began to loose his way in a recent recording of the 41st symphony where tempos were micromanaged for the sake of trying to sound different. That seems to have spilled over into this recording. There's lots of rubato, tempo fluxuations, and outright rewriting of tempo markings. Sometimes they are intriguing, other times they make little sense. For instance, the orchestral transition that takes the act I finale into its coda is taken very slowly. Why? I cannot figure out.

Furthermore, like many other conductors, Jacobs leads an overall swiftly played performance, but everyone else seems to realize that there are some parts that should not be played fast. "La ci darem" is just raced through.

Jacobs is so obsessed with the minutia of tempo changes that he misses out on the most obvious drama. With the Commendatore's entrance at the end, the words "Don Giovanni" are just flatly stated instead of dramatically phrased and sung out. And the final two "no's" from Giovanni when asked to repent have to be among the weakest sung in opera history.

Also worth noting: when Giovanni is dragged down to hell, the timpani is replaced by a bass drum, which continues to be played for a few seconds after the music ends. I suppose this touch is done to heighten the drama, but I prefer the way Mozart wrote it.

Johannes Weisser (Don Giovanni) is certainly a capable singer, but you can do better with the title role. Rodney Gilfry, in my opinion, remains unsurpassed. He's almost manic in the way that he has more fun than he should playing a sexual predator, but also utterly convincing when he needs to turn on the charm to seduce.

Besides these issues, the orchestra and rest of the cast are in good form. I particular liked how the balance in the orchestra is titled to the basses.

Sound is what you'd expect from Harmonia Mundi, with two caveats. 1. The orchestra and voices were recorded at such different levels, that when I set the sound to where I like the orchestra to be, the voices are ear piercingly loud to the point that I think I might damage my speakers. 2. The timpani is too front and center.

Bottom line: Gardiner still remains a first choice.

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Review by Jakob May 10, 2009 (6 of 7 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
This is, to sum up, an inetresting and convincing new reading of Don Giovanni and an example of how an opera recording should be engineered. René Jacobs, ex-countertenor and very successful baroque and classical "HIP"-conductor finally kills all the over-romanticized Don-Giovanni-clishees and gives a full-of-life, lively and spontaneous performance of this well-known score. His sense of drama is omnipotent, and in every moment you can feel the theater athmosphere. Above all, the Freiburger Barckorchester delivers the orchestral reference of this work - historically informed, technically superior and sonically sparkling. To name but one name should be an example of the high standard: Petra Müllejans is the emotional and spontaneous-energetic leader of this extraordinary ensemble.
A little disappontment comes from the cast of singers. There are some gems but also many flops.
Above all, the most convincing and vocally pleasing singing comes from the soprano Sunhae Im as Zerlina. Pretty-voiced, humorous and musically, she gives a rather tough portrait of the pesant girl. The next star is Alexandrina Pendatchanska. Sounding dangerously dramatic and with stunning chest voice notes, she is a tragic and pathetic Donna Elvira. Lorenzo Regazzo as Leporello is the third star of the crew; a very congenial voice and a funny character portrait.
It is a pity that the other singers are not as good as the named three; Olga Pasnychik as Donna Anna and Kenneth Tarver as Don Ottavio are mostly uninteresting, uninspired and sound often dull. And Johannes Weisser as the hero gives marvellous notes, great pronounciation and technique - but neither a character nor a identity. There lies the problem; it is very sad that these roles are so "undercasted".
But the recording is a real pleasure. Recorded in Berlin (Teldex Studio), the sound is ideally engineered, without disturbing resonance and pin sharp. Martin Sauer and his recording team have done more than well, and hopefully the Idomeneo of Jacobs with the Freiburger, due to be released these days, will hide this standard. Scheduled to sing are Im, Pendatchanska, the great Bernarda Fink (thank you, René!!) and Robert Croft. I'll wait for it...

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Review by JJ November 16, 2007 (5 of 10 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:    
Que ce soit pour Cosi Fan Tutte, les Noces de Figaro ou la Clémence de Titus, le Mozart selon Jacobs est avant tout placé sous le signe de la vie. Vie de l’action, vie du drame, incarnation vivante des personnages, tout semble en perpétuel mouvement pour une lecture musicale des plus fines et enthousiasmantes. Don Giovanni n’échappe pas à ce traitement et le résultat en est encore plus probant. Car, comme le souligne le compositeur Henry Barraud dans son remarquable ouvrage « Les cinq grands opéras » : « Dans l’immensité de la littérature du théâtre lyrique, il y a un petit nombre de chefs-d’œuvre qui, par leur perfection formelle, par leur rayonnement, par l’unanimité de l’hommage qui monte vers eux des plus lointains horizons du temps et de l’espace, par l’influence qu’ils ont exercée sur l’évolution de la musique, échappent au relatif pour atteindre à un absolu presque inconcevable pour nous s’ils n’étaient là pour nous en offrir l’image ». Le Don Giovanni selon Jacobs pose une lumière unique sur tout cela. Sur la perfection formelle du drame de Mozart, sur son rayonnement mais également sur une maîtrise dramatique portée par des phrasés et un sens naturel de la respiration d’une rare évidence. La vie est donc bien au rendez-vous et tous les chanteurs en présence y participent avec chaleur et humanisme. Johannes Weisser dans le rôle titre, Lorenzo Regazzo dans celui de Leporello, la Donna Elvira d’Alexandrina Pendatchanska, la Donna Anna d’Olga Pasichnyk, Kenneth Tarver dans Don Ottavio, Sunhae Im dans Zerlina ou encore le Masetto de Nikolay Borchev et le Commandeur d’Alessandro Guerzoni, sont à saluer pour une interprétation qui fera date. Sans oublier bien évidemment un chœur d’une exceptionnelle clarté. Car à quoi bon se voiler la face. Le Don Giovanni de René Jacobs, avec sa verve et son ardeur, sa sagesse et son charisme, est un monument construit à l’aune du siècle nouveau qui sera toujours présent dans nos mémoires comme une référence vivante. Incontournable et unique.

Jean-Jacques Millo

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Works: 1  

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart - Don Giovanni, K. 527