Claudio Abbado was undeniably the supreme Mahler conductor of our time. With his Lucerne Festival Orchestra he has set new standards in the field of classical music, especially in the interpretation of works by Gustav Mahler. The core of the orchestra is provided by the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, itself an élite body of players. Soloists like violinist Kolja Blacher, clarinettist Sabine Meyer, oboist Albrecht Mayer, violist Wolfram Christ, cellist Natalia Gutman, the Hagen Quartet and members of the Alban Berg Quartet to name just a few, make the Lucerne Festival Orchestra a star-studded ensemble.
Mezzo Magdalena Kožená returns with another early music adventure on Archiv Production after her highly acclaimed Vivaldi album: Kožená explores the early Italian Baroque music of Claudio Monteverdi with rewarding results. Inspired by the improvisational nature of much of this music, Kožená reveals yet another aspect of her musical personality with selections from L’incoronazione di Poppea, Combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda and more.
The new recording from Magdalena Kožená features deeply-felt interpretations of sacred songs from the Baroque to the 20th Century. In a rare recording collaboration, she is joined by virtuoso Christian Schmitt, in music for voice and organ from the sacred traditions of Germany, Austria, France and England, as well as her native Czechoslovakia. Of course, the album includes music by J.S. Bach – a composer with whom Magdalena Kožená has long been associated - with sacred aspects of German song represented by Hugo Wolf and Schubert.
"I would be very hard pressed to find another single recording of this high quality that so clearly demonstrates the musicality of the Bach family." ~American Record Guide
"If anyone has recorded a lovelier Mozart recital in recent years, I've yet to hear it. In her early thirties, Kozená is now consummate mistress of her art. Her liquid high mezzo, with its easy upward extension, combines warmth with the bloom and freshness of youth, while her coloratura, on display in 'Al desio di chi t'adora' . . . is as brilliant and expressive as Bartoli's, yet without the Italian diva's intrusive aspirates . . . Fortepianist Jos van Immerseel is an equally sympathetic partner in an impassioned yet intimate performance . . ." ~Gramophone
Sir Charles Mackerras leads a fine performance of Mozart's last opera seria, a work that should be far better appreciated than it is. Full of dignity and poise, aria follows duet follows aria, fascinatingly scored, and exactly the correct length. The numbers are expressive and filled with the information we need to know these characters. Sesto, a travesty role, is taken by Magdalena Kozena, who follows in the footsteps of Teresa Berganza, Cecilia Bartoli, and Anne Sofie von Otter and proves their equal. Her gorgeous voice and technique shine through. –Robert Levine