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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Come into the Garden, 25 Oct 2012
By 
Entartete Musik (London) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Mozart: La Finta Giardiniera (Freiburger Barockorchester/Jacobs) (Audio CD)
René Jacobs recordings of Mozart's operas have been a breath of fresh historically informed performance air. Spry tempi, fruity orchestral tones and witty continuo make for a continually engaging listening experience. Some may take issue with his 'authentic' approach, but nobody can doubt the vivacity of his recordings. While Jacobs's Così fan tutte and Le nozze di Figaro presented some of the world's best Mozartians, his recent forays have been less impressive. Thankfully La finta giardiniera is a happy return to form.

Jacobs has made a brave un-Urtext choice in plumping for the 'Náměst' version of the opera, performed in Prague five years after Mozart's death. This is an approximation of what the late Mozart might have made of his failed 1775 opera if he'd had the chance to revise. Fuller orchestrations - with 'emancipated' bassoons and violas - a few seemingly injudicious cuts (summarily reinstated by Jacobs) and, hey presto, you've got an opera that aspires to the Da Ponte trilogy's genius.

It doesn't quite work out that way, but at least on disc you can overlook any dramatic shortcomings. Certainly, Jacobs throws a lot of energy at the piece. The Freiburger Barockorchester is, as ever, a brilliant conduit to the drama. The players give real bounce to rhythmic detail, their playing is ravishing in the lyrical passages and, true to the hallmark style of the Harmonia Mundi discs, the continuo provides a vivid commentary on the drama.

As previous discs boast singer-actors as fine as Simon Keenlyside, Bernada Fink and Angelika Kircschlager (to name but three), the line-up for this Finta looks a little less glamorous. But Sophie Karthäuser is a spirited Sandrina, even if her voice lacks some of the necessary spin to match the ranks of the Freiburger Barockorchester. Alex Penda's strident Arminda proves a better match, not least in her irate 'Vorrei punirti indegno' at the opening of Act 2. Neither can touch Jeremy Ovenden's Contino, which melds a lyrical timbre with a goodly dose of vim and vigor. With Michael Nagy and Nicolas Revenq among others in the comprimario roles, Jacobs has amassed a keen list of Mozartians.

All in, this is a winning performance. Jacobs is less invasive than on his recent Zauberflöte, more hands on than the flat Don Giovanni (both on disc and on DVD). And even if it can't quite match the bounties of his Figaro and Così that's probably more to do with the work than anything Jacobs or his salad days cast are doing. La finta giardiniera will never be the masterpiece for which one would hope, but this recording makes for a delightful foray into the garden.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good fun to listen to but don't try and follow the plot, 20 Oct 2013
By 
Mr. DAVID Geer "Korngold Fan" (Sydney Australia) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Mozart: La Finta Giardiniera (Freiburger Barockorchester/Jacobs) (Audio CD)
Great recoding and good fun to listen to but I found the plot hard to master so just do what I like to do with CD's listen and work or ....and this is great for that. Oh yes lovely sound, singing, playing heaps of energy ...very enjoyable. Nicely packaged!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A winning performance in lush sound, 30 Oct 2012
By 
JM Olmesdahl - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Mozart: La Finta Giardiniera (Freiburger Barockorchester/Jacobs) (Audio CD)
Listening to this early Mozart opera (albeit here, in a revisionist account attuned to Mozart's late operatic style) reminded me very much of some of Haydn's operas. Perhaps because Haydn's operatic writing never quite matured into what Mozart's late operatic style became. Perhaps too because, much like in Haydn, there is a sense of jollity, helped here in this recording, by some lively timpani and a sprinkling of colourful instrumental effects aimed at bringing the text to life. There is real gusto to the singing in an all round satisfying cast. Continuo support is shared between harpsichord and fortepiano. I don't know enough about the period to know whether this would have happened in an actual performance, but at least we are mostly spared the fantasia-like fortepiano departures that mar some of Jacobs's other Mozart opera recordings. With such highly committed singing and playing as we get here minor quibbles are easily diminished and I've certainly found this release more consistently enjoyable than some of Jacobs's other Mozart interpretations.

While operas of the younger Mozart can sometimes sound quite tedious (one thinks of the Leopold Hager recordings in this regard), there is no tedium here. This is a performance in lush sound that wins by its sheer swagger hinting every now and then at other operas like Figaro or Cosi. Expect a large box and substantial booklet, both of which would be presumptuous (at a time when CD presentations seem to be slimming down) were it not for the fact that the performance earns its shelf space in every way.
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Mozart: La Finta Giardiniera (Freiburger Barockorchester/Jacobs)
Mozart: La Finta Giardiniera (Freiburger Barockorchester/Jacobs
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by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (Audio CD - 2012)
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