Magazine article Gramophone

Mozart

Magazine article Gramophone

Mozart

Article excerpt

Mozart  Don Giovanni Jean-Sebastien Bou bar    Don Giovanni Myrtb Papatanasiu sop       Donna Anna Julie Boulianne mez       Donna Elvira Anna Grevelius mez             Zerlina Julien Behr ten            Don Ottavio Robert Gleadow bass-bar      Leporello Marc Scoffoni bar              Masetto Steven Humes bass         Commendatore 

Chorus of Radio France; Le Cercle de l'Harmonie / Jeremie Rhorer

Alpha (M) (3) ALPHA379 (176' * DDD)

Recorded live at the Theatre des Champs-Elysees, Paris, December 2016

Includes synopsis, libretto and translation

Jeremie Rhorer and his lively period forces won plaudits in these pages and elsewhere for their Paris recordings of Die Entfuhrung (9/16) and La clemenza di Tito (4/17). This new Don Giovanni provoked more mixed feelings, and not just because the period-instrument competition--notably Gardiner (Archiv, 8/95) and Jacobs (Harmonia Mundi, A/07)--is that much more formidable. Using a conflation of the Prague and Vienna versions--which means, inter alia, both Don Ottavio arias and the Zerlina-Leporello bondage duet--Rhorer conducts a (predominantly) up-tempo, lean-textured Don, one that stresses the opera's uniquely manic, driven quality. With brisk, naturally paced recitatives, the performance generates an exciting theatrical charge, though some of the speeds border on the frenetic, and transitions in the two finales can be blunt, as in the disconcerting forward jolt when Elvira announces her future career plans in the closing sextet. And while live recording has its obvious advantages, there are inevitable stage creaks and clatters--more distracting than in Rhorer's other Mozart recordings--plus varying sound perspectives, often at the expense of orchestral impact.

Rhorer's trump cards are his Giovanni and Leporello, a mutually dependent master-servant relationship that bristles with sharp-witted italianit'a. Both act brilliantly with the voice and dispatch their patter without compromising vocal quality. Like the lighter-toned Johannes Weisser in the Jacobs recording, Jean-Sebastien Bou is more upmarket Jack the lad than demonically driven anti-hero: caddish, sardonic, yet capable of fining his powerful baritone to a honeyed suavity in 'La ci darem la mano'--though his serenade is hampered by an uncharacteristically plodding tempo. With a dash more bass in his baritone, Robert Gleadow's resourceful, garlicky Leporello is well contrasted vocally with Giovanni. …

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