Mozart is the most pervasively dramatic composer in history. The spirit of opera informs very nearly his every work. Themes are characters; characters interact; they change. András Schiff’s alertness to the dialogue in Mozart is reflected both in his acute sense of characterisation and his immensely sophisticated use of articulation. Every line breathes. Not only that, every tone tells. Just as the voice in conversation subtly reflects the speaker’s state of mind, so Schiff’s deployment of sonority derives from an acute perception of the notes’ psychological as well as their purely musical character. This recording from the historical and stunningly beautiful Teatro Olimpico affords us numerous insights into Schiff’s approach to music and music-making, and more besides. Schiff’s joy in performance is as evident to the eye as to the ear.
Wolfgang Rihm (born in 1952) is one of the most important European composers of the late twentieth to early twenty first centuries, but his work is little known in America. He is famous for his productivity; before his 50th birthday, he had written over 400 pieces. The four concertos recorded here are similar in their manic energy, offering few moments of repose. The expressive directions for Music for oboe and orchestra include the instructions "as if overwound," "wild and funny," and "frantic," and those phrases aptly describe the effect of his work. Rihm is an unabashed modernist, and the surface of his music may be too prickly for some listeners, but it's deeply expressive, and at times very funny, such as at the end of the oboe concerto.
Frieder Bernius and his Stuttgart forces weigh in with one of the finer Mozart Requiems in a very crowded field–and to ensure this performance’s relative exclusivity, it’s one of only a handful of recordings that use the edition by Franz Beyer, an intelligent and persuasive 1971 effort to correct “obvious textural errors” and some decidedly un-Mozartian features in the orchestration attributable to Franz Süssmayr, Mozart’s pupil/assistant who completed the work after the master’s death. This live concert performance from 1999 offers well-set tempos (including a vigorous Kyrie fugue), infectious rhythmic energy from both chorus and orchestra, robust, precise, musically compelling choral singing, a first rate quartet of soloists–and, especially considering its concert-performance setting, impressively detailed and vibrant sonics. The CD also features informative notes by Beyer himself.
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