Culture Magazine

Recordings Review: The Whole Flute

By Superconductor @ppelkonen

René Jacobs' new studio Die Zauberflöte is three hours of Mozartean bliss.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
(Ed. Note: This is a slightly revised re-post of a recording from two years ago, with some further thoughts upon further listening. It's still like no other recording in the catalogue, but I have some reservations I needed to express.--P.) 
Recordings Review: The Whole Flute The new René Jacobs recording of Mozart's Die Zauberflöte stands apart from all the other recordings of this opera in the catalog. Sprawling onto three discs and running almost three hours, this innovative set presents the opera as Mozart's original audience may have heard it in 1791.
Most early recordings of Mozart's final opera either eliminated the spoken dialog altogether (as "unmusical") or had the singers (or worse yet, voice actors) recite the dialog with no accompaniment whatsoever. Too often, the result was a series of dry, boring interruptions in the music that would have listeners reaching for the 'skip' button. This recording takes the opposite approach, opening up all the standard cuts and treating the opera's libretto as organic dialog between living, breathing theatrical characters.
Jacobs has assembled a talented young cast, led by the pairing of Daniel Behle and Marlis Petersen as Tamino and Pamina. Daniel Schmutzhard is a warm, funny Papageno, able to cut loose in the opera's comic scenes. He is well matched with Sunhae Im as Papagena. (Ms. Im also does a convincing "old crone" voice for her character.) Marcos Fink is a sturdy baritonal Sarastro. Bass Konstantin Wolfff is all over the Temple in a triple role: he's the Speaker, one of the Priests and one of the Two Men in Armor.
The only serious hitch in the casting is the Finnish soprano Anna-Kristiina Kaappolla as theQueen of the Night. Although this is a short part, recorded under studio conditions, Ms. Kaapolla caps her arias with some ugly attempts that hover near a high F but sometimes pull sharp. (This is especially noticeable at the very end of "O zittre nicht.") Were these the best takes that the recording engineers could manage?
Character tenor Kurt Azesberger brings Monostatos to new depths of depravity, especially since he doesn't have most of his lines cut. His entry is accompanied by whip-cracks, making the slave-driving Moor a menacing figure. Also, the racist references in the libretto ("schwarz" and so on) are left in, along with the scene with the three slaves. All these effects sound like distractions, but they enhance the drama of the work, particularly in the complex second act with its rapid scene changes.
The addition of a pianoforte continuo helps accent the spoken dialog. Also, this recording abounds in old-fashioned sound effects. Papageno is followed by the twitter of his captives, played on old-fashioned wooden bird-calls. The Queen of the Night gets a thunder-machine rattle every time she is even mentioned--and the big "bang"chord, mentioned by Schickenader in the libretto but left out of the sheet music.
Some "period" recordings of Mozart sound dry and stuffy. But here, the instruments have bloom and bite, played and conducted with pin-point accuracy. Mr. Jacobs selects brisk tempos for the most part, but his decision to slow down for dramatic effect at times (most noticeable in the "dancing slaves" scene in Act I) works too. It's all about serving the drama and making this opera come to aural life as a living theatrical experience. Simply put: this is The Magic Flute as you've never heard it before.


You Might Also Like :

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog

These articles might interest you :

  • Country Chic Photoshoot

    Country Chic Photoshoot

    Today’s styled shoot will mesmerize you with its unique country chic style! The barn of the Marathon equestrian center was the ideal background for natural,... Read more

    9 hours, 44 minutes ago by   Eleni Balkouli
    LIFESTYLE, TRAVEL, WEDDING
  • TokyoTreat Unboxing: Japanese Candy Dreams Come True

    TokyoTreat Unboxing: Japanese Candy Dreams Come True

    TokyoTreat recently reached out to me to check out their amazing subscription boxes, full to the brim of delicious Japanese candy and snacks! Read more

    10 hours, 43 minutes ago by   Cubiclethrowdown
    TRAVEL
  • To Abby, With Love

    Abby, With Love

    Glennon, I realize Abby is all yours.  I got a pretty fantastic feminist husband of my own.  However, your wife turned a corner for me I never thought I’d get... Read more

    12 hours, 51 minutes ago by   Amanda Bruce
    COMMUNITY, DIET & WEIGHT, HEALTH, HEALTHY LIVING, WOMEN'S ISSUES
  • Extra Flavoursome Red Wine Beef Stew with Bacon

    Extra Flavoursome Wine Beef Stew with Bacon

    version;"Your beef stew got standard! Must cook again!"After I have cooked this EASY healthy red wine beef stew at here for my family, my beef-loving husband an... Read more

    13 hours, 29 minutes ago by   Zoebakeforhappykids
    FOOD & DRINK, RECIPES
  • Neck Bone Recipe

    Neck Bone Recipe

    I posted on my face book page that I was making my mom neck bone this weekend and I had several requests for the recipe - so, I decided to make a post of it. ... Read more

    The 15 July 2018 by   Kalamitykelli
    FOOD & DRINK, RECIPES
  • Sensitive Skin Saviours: What I Do When My Skin is Super Sensitive

    Sensitive Skin Saviours: What When Super

    At least twice a year my skin freaks out, gets really sensitive, red, dry and flaky. Most products sting and it's very uncomfortable. It's only happened since w... Read more

    The 15 July 2018 by   Glossqueen
    HAIR & BEAUTY, SELF EXPRESSION
  • Building A Team Around Your Band

    So I just watched my nations team, the French team, win the world cup, and it was glorious. It got me thinking quite a bit about teamwork though and I wanted... Read more

    The 15 July 2018 by   Indiemusicpromo
    ENTERTAINMENT, MUSIC