For those of us who have for years been swapping between Klemperer and Böhm and wishing for a recording synthesising the two casts - essentially Böhm's male singers and Klemperer's ladies - this is the best modern alternative. It seems to have been either overlooked or rather scorned by the critics; I'm not sure why.
In his first Mozart recording, Mackerras has no especially individual mark to put on the score but is simply concerned to deliver a lithe, nimble, pacy account. He coaxes delightful playing from the Scottish Chamber Orchestra on modern instruments but with a minimum of vibrato and Romantic weight, and has an innate sense of Mozartian style. The original "Gramophone" review by Alan Blyth complained of over-reverberant sound; I find it ideal, so perhaps it has been tamed in some mild remastering; I don't know.
Given that we have three Americans and two British singers in the principal roles delivering the full Schikaneder spoken text and, ironically, mostly Germans in the subsidiary parts, there is a risk of the whole enterprise having too Anglo-Saxon an accent. Blyth complained of unidiomatic German from the Americans and the three Scottish boys who sing "Die drei jungen Knaben" while complimenting the two British linguists. It is true that Thomas Allen and Robert Lloyd sound most at home in the language but I doubt whether most listeners care that much; all sing beautifully and sound good enough to me.
No-one can touch Wunderlich in the role, but the late Jerry Hadley sings a lovely, boyish, flexible Tamino apart from little bleats in the approach to some higher notes. I love Barbara Hendricks' slightly grainy, flickering soprano and do not at all agree with Blyth that she sounds anonymous; this is a vulnerable, girlish Pamina with a soaring top. June Anderson surprises as the Queen of the Night. Her smoky timbre and an incipient beat make her sound uncannily like a more mature Joan Sutherland; she is a fierce Queen with all the notes even if she isn't Lucia Popp or Diana Damrau. Allen rivals Fischer-Dieskau for geniality, cunning inflection of the text and suavity of voice; this is a part ideally suited to his vocal and theatrical gifts. Robert Lloyd is sonorous and authoritative as Sarastro. The supporting cast is excellent, especially Peter Svensson and Gottfried Hornik doubling up as First Priest and First Armed Man, and Speaker and Second Priest, respectively.
This recording has been available as a super-bargain Brilliant issue and on Telarc; it is a cheap, delightful account of a perennial favourite, light-hearted and charming but still encompassing the darker undertones, balancing the comedy with the mystical, metaphysical implications.
As a bonus, a duet of dubious authenticity for Tamino and Papageno is provided; "Pamina, wo bist du?". It was first sung in a production by Schikaneder in 1802; Mackerras suggests that its gaucheries imply that it was elaborated from Mozart's sketch by an unknown hand, possibly the local Kapellmeister. It doesn't sound anything like echt mature Mozart to me.