PRIZE DRAW THIS WEEK!

All orders placed between Friday 28 January 2022 and Thursday 3 February 2022 (UK time) will automatically be entered into our prize draw to win a copy of the superb boxset, 'Maria Callas Remastered: The Complete Studio Recordings', worth over £190!

This 69-CD deluxe box set contains all the studio recordings that Callas made for both EMI/Columbia and the Italian label Cetra between 1949 and 1969. Each recording has been painstakingly remastered in 24-bit/96kHz sound at Abbey Road Studios, using the original tapes, and the entire collection has been curated with the greatest of care. Conceived as a true collector's edition, 'Callas Remastered' presents each individual opera or recital CD in its original artwork. It also contains a 132-page hardback book with essays, a biography and chronology, rarely-seen photos and reproductions of revealing letters written by Maria Callas, Walter Legge and other EMI executives.

Each order will count as one entry into the draw, so multiple entries are allowed. Good luck!
Elsa Dreisig: Mozart x3

The Europadisc Review

Elsa Dreisig: Mozart x3

Louis Langree, Elsa Dreisig (soprano), Kammerorchester Basel

£12.95

Discs of Mozart arias seem to be less numerous these days than ones devoted to Handel, but here’s one that should lift the spirits of Mozartians everywhere. The French-Danish lyric soprano Elsa Dreisig, a young singer based at the Berlin Staatsoper, has already made quite a name for herself in repertoire ranging from Rameau to contemporary works but centring on Mozart. For her new recital disc on the Erato label she has teamed up with conductor Louis Langrée and the period instruments of Kammerorchester Basel (familiar from their vivid contributions to Giovanni Antonini’s Haydn 2032 project) f... read more

Discs of Mozart arias seem to be less numerous these days than ones devoted to Handel, but here’s one that should lift the spirits of Mozartians everywhere. The French-Danish lyric soprano Elsa Dreisig, a young singer based at the Berlin Staatsoper, ... read more

Elsa Dreisig: Mozart x3

Elsa Dreisig: Mozart x3

Louis Langree, Elsa Dreisig (soprano), Kammerorchester Basel

Discs of Mozart arias seem to be less numerous these days than ones devoted to Handel, but here’s one that should lift the spirits of Mozartians everywhere. The French-Danish lyric soprano Elsa Dreisig, a young singer based at the Berlin Staatsoper, has already made quite a name for herself in repertoire ranging from Rameau to contemporary works but centring on Mozart. For her new recital disc on the Erato label she has teamed up with conductor Louis Langrée and the period instruments of Kammerorchester Basel (familiar from their vivid contributions to Giovanni Antonini’s Haydn 2032 project) for a collection of Mozart arias with a difference.

Entitled Mozart x3, it contains three different soprano arias for three distinct characters from each of the three Da Ponte operas, as well as an aria apiece from his three greatest opera serie (perhaps it should have been called Mozart x3²?). The result is a disc that not only demonstrates Dreisig’s own versatility and musical range, but also Mozart’s consummate inventiveness and ability to bring a range of characters, comic and tragic, vividly to life and endow them with a depth of human feeling still unparalleled in operatic history.

The disc opens with three arias from Act 1 of Così fan tutte, the last of the Da Ponte operas (1790). After a call to attention with the recitative ‘Temerari, sortite fuori’, Fiordiligi insists (rather prematurely, as it turns out) on her constancy to her departed Guglielmo in her extravagant ‘Come scoglio’: the perfect vehicle for the dusky lower end of Dreisig’s voice, while also showcasing the edgy strings and pungent oboes of the Basel players. The earlier aria ‘Smanie implacabili’ for Fiordiligi’s sister Dorabella has a lighter feel to it, but is still invested with an emotional depth against the scurrying accompaniment. And then we swing into the maid Despina’s ‘In uomini, in soldati’, a delightfully twinkling account delivered by Dreisig with plenty of character.

Next comes Le nozze di Figaro (1786), starting with the Countess’s exquisite Act 3 ‘Dove sono’ and its preceding recitative ‘E Susanna non vien’, the character’s very human doubts and vulnerability caught perfectly by Dreisig in partnership with some fine solo oboe playing, before rallying in the concluding cabaletta. Even more vivid is Susanna’s deliciously teasing ‘Deh, vieni, non tardar’ from Act 4, where the velvety husk of Dreisig’s essentially bright-toned voice endows the music with an unmistakable sensuality. And in the page Cherubino’s ‘Voi, che sapete’, she demonstrates that you don’t need a mezzo for this soprano part, especially when you have as wide-ranging and passionate a vehicle as hers. The string pizzicati are particularly effective here, featherlight and with some lovely pianissimo playing.

Don Giovanni (1787) is an altogether darker comedy, as is evident particularly in the bereaved character of Donna Anna, who emerges in this performance of ‘Non mi dir, bell’idol mio’ not as a mere opera seria character (as she can sometimes come across), but as a wounded individual who needs time to come to terms with what has happened to her at the hands of the titular Don. The orchestral playing here, as throughout, is the best possible advert for using period instruments, bringing out all the delicate colours of Mozart’s supremely nuanced scoring. After the anger and hurt of Donna Elvira’s ‘In quali eccessi’ recitative (itself a character study in miniature), the aria ‘Mi tradì quell’alma ingrata’ goes like a breeze, with some truly marvellous woodwind interjections. Concluding the Da Ponte section of the disc, the peasant girl Zerlina’s ‘Vedrai, carino’ as she attempts to comfort her bruised fiancé Masetto has a wonderfully gentle bucolic edge, the voice sensitive yet radiant.

The trio of opera seria extracts starts with Elettra’s ‘Tutte nel cor vi sento’ and its preceding recitative from Idomeneo (1781), a moment of heightened emotion, the extremities of Elettra’s feelings underlined by the edgy nervousness of the accompanimental figuration. It’s a thrilling account, including a gloriously rasping held dissonance from the horns halfway through, showing that, for all Mozart’s genius in the Da Ponte operas, you should never underestimate his powers in the more rarefied classical world of his ‘serious’ operas. Next comes a peach of an aria from Lucio Silla (1772), the least widely known work on the disc. Originally written for the castrato Venanzio Rauzzini, Cecilio’s ‘Pupille amate’ is given an accompaniment of solo strings which brings out all the intimacy of his tender, comforting words to his beloved Giunia, and it’s endowed with marvellous warmth of tone in Dreisig’s performance. Finally, Vitellia’s ‘Non più di fiori’ from Mozart’s final opera La clemenza di Tito (1791) is, together with its recitative, yet another example of the composer’s ability to conjure up a world of feeling in microcosm. And, as in ‘Pupille amanti’, one can admire the warmth of Dreisig’s voice, but also its agility – and some splendidly woody clarinet solos!

Vocal ornamentation throughout is stylishly tasteful rather than self-indulgent, while the whole disc is enlivened by the Kammerorchester Basel’s vibrantly alert playing, under Louis Langrée’s expert, lively direction. This is their disc almost as much as it is Dreisig’s. In her introductory booklet note, she writes that ‘Mozart is the genius who really knew how to write a woman in her complete dimension’, and this album serves as vivid proof of that from start to finish. Enthusiastically recommended!

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The Spin Doctor Europadisc's Weekly Column

A Celebration and a Tribute

A Celebration and a Tribute  26th January 2022

26th January 2022

25 January is marked around the world as a celebration of the life and work of Scotland’s national poet, Robert Burns. For those preparing a Burns Supper, several ingredients are necessary, and by now many of you will already have prepared the Cullen skink, the haggis with neeps and tatties, and even (for those with large appetites) cranachan – Scotland’s answer to Eton mess. Also essential is a generous serving of Burns’s own poetry, not least the Address to a Haggis, as well as the Selkirk Grace (‘Some hae meat an canna eat...’). More formal gatherings will involve the participation of a bagpiper to pipe in the guests.

For those celebrating Burns Night less formally, however, the musical options are varied. Burns’s poetry, as published in his lifetime by James Johnson and George Thomson, became inextricably linked with many traditional or traditional-style Scottish... read more

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