5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Much Less than the Sum of its Parts,
This review is from: Mozart: Don Giovanni (Audio CD)
If Kierkegaard is to be believed - and who would argue lightly with our Danish friend - Don Giovanni offers catharsis, understood as the purification and purgation of emotions - not least pity and fear on the part of the viewer - through its exposition, interplay and resolution. True, there is a stupendous deus ex machine at the conclusion of K 527 with the arrival of the Commendatore but who is able to retain their critical faculties at this point? It is the one instance in his oeuvre, varied though it be, where Mozart red-lines himself in an effort to keep up with his own inspiration. A successful performance of Don Giovanni should leave one fully energised and, as William Mann states, ready for anything.
Which brings me to the set in question. I enjoy the virility of Terfel's Don: he's wearing the ever-so tight trousers of Priapus and sure as hell he is going to do something about it. Pertusi as Leporello lacks projection (let's blame the placement of the microphones) but otherwise has a pleasant voice. Groop as Zerlina is leathery: errrh, read this as a fail. Ann Murray, as ever, is serviceable at best as Donna Elvira. The Commendatore sounds elderly and not inappropriately so but a Kurt Moll he ain't. Fleming burns as Donna Anna. Herbert Lippert is a non-wimpy Ottavio even if he fails the breath-test at Il Mio Tesoro. Equally, the Masetto sounds breathless. Solti certainly earnt his wages on the night.
Above and beyond the debits and credits, there is a wider flaw to my ears: catharsis is non-existent. As portrayed, I don't care about the fate of any of these protagonists: they can all go to hell with the Don. This is canned heat, not genuine fire. As I understand it, this is a concert-performance rather than a stage production and the lack of greasepaint is telling. Nor is the cause assisted by the London Philharmonic which plays pertly and ever so blandly; I cannot recall a single instance of incandescence on their part. The Decca recording is excellent.
If you want a polished concert-performance of Don Giovanni, this hits the mark or thereabouts. Consummation and catharsis lie elsewhere.