Monday, 11 October 2010

Mozart - The Magic Flute - Akademie fuer Alte Musik Berlin - Rene Jacobs

Daniel Behle - Tamino
Marlis Petersen - Pamina
Daniel Schmutzhard - Papageno
Sunhae In - Papagena
Anna-Kristiina Kaappola - Queen of the Night
Marcos Fink - Sarastro
RIAS Kammerchor
Akademie fuer Alte Musik Berlin
Rene Jacobs
Released: 30th September 2010

(review by Gilles Macassar in Telerama 09 October 2010)

"Mozart retraced the entire journey of man from his instinctive origins to his confrontation with mystery", rejoiced Albert Camus in a tribute published by L'Express in 1956, the bicentenary of the composer's death. "The entire journey of man" - Mozart never demonstrated this better than in The Magic Flute, his final opera, where this journey of life is coupled with a journey of initiation, a spiritual fulfillment that elevates each character - a Prince like Tamino, or a simple bird-catcher like Papageno - from darkness into light, from uncertain self-awareness into wisdom and radiant serenity.

And yet, with its spoken dialogues that pass the non-German-speaking music lover by, the masonic libretto of The Magic Flute has had a bad press - turgid, esoteric, folkloristic and outdated. To the point where, in one of the benchmark discographical interpretations, that of Otto Klemperer, these dialogues are removed, the sung parts connected without breaks.

Brimming with vitality and humour, the interpretation of René Jacobs takes the contrary approach, and may establish itself in turn as the benchmark version. Not only because it uses the correct metronome settings - a kind of summer time, where each tempo proceeds in a sunny allure - but also because this playful interpretation restores all the spoken dialogues with delectable theatrical and acoustic imagination - a hooting owl and rumbling thunder for the Queen of the Night. Tempered by a series of performances at La Monnaie in Brussels, in the highly poetic staging of filmmaker and artist William Kentridge, Rene Jacobs' singers unflinchingly follow his rhythmic hops, his playful ornaments. We  regret the fact that this spectacular Flute, captured by Belgian television, does not appear on DVD, a subtext which would have enabled us to assess further the humour and irreverence which undermine Schikaneder's libretto.

Far from being the low mass or rambling sermon which often bogs down the second act, this desacralised Flute is dedicated to the victory of the human, all too human Papageno (the wonderful Daniel Schmutzhard), the bird-catcher in search of the bird of paradise, in whom we can easily recognize ourselves. "When you have really heard this song, you have travelled the world and all its creatures," said Camus. And made the journey of Mozart's music as well, this recording of René Jacobs seems to reply through the years.

Download links
pw: cabrousa

An interview with Rene Jacobs from Independent Classical:-
Independent Classical: Rene Jacobs podcast
Rene Jacobs: singer, conductor, scholar, archivist, alchemist, teacher. In recent years he's been "rehabilitating" the Mozart operas for the Harmonia Mundi label, eradicating 19th century retouchings and stylistic anomalies in order to restore these great works to their vibrant original colours.

He and his handpicked performers have now arrived at Mozart's beloved "Singspiel" Die Zauberflote and the results are quite revelatory. Jacobs talks to Edward Seckerson about his crusade on behalf of style, 18th century and otherwise, he talks about the hours of reading and researching, the endless detective work offering clues as to how this music might have sounded and why. He talks about the dangers of "performance tradition" and offers some thoughts as to why Mozart's librettist on "Flute", Emanuel Schikaneder, has been so underrated and misunderstood. He also holds court on the latterday evolution of the countertenor with reference to both his own career and to another new release of Handel arias featuring the exquisite voice of Bejun Mehta.

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