, 15 Mar. 2013
This review is from: Bella Mia Fiamma-Konzertarien (Audio CD)
In a better world, some of the long lines around the greatest opera houses would be because of Juliane Banse, the Ms Versatility of the current generation of sopranos. Mozart, Debussy, Kurtág and more are in her discography. Yet she has been realistic and rueful in interviews about the inescapable erosions of time on the career of a singer - especially a female. Comes the period when her voice, her figure and her face all fit her to play, for instance, Sophie or Susanna or Violetta, but the offer from recording company or opera house comes not. And there's always a kid, in bel canto as in pool halls, catching the ear and the eye that are eager for the new.
These Mozart arias were written to be sung in concert or as inserts for operas by other composers. The most famous, for its bizarre genesis, is the title number of this CD. The soprano Josepha Duschek locked Mozart in the summer-house of her garden, saying he would not be allowed out until he had composed an aria for her recitals. Wolfie soon emerged with Bella Mia Fiamma, telling Duschek she would have it provided she sing it on sight. She must have done, for she was allowed it, so one must salute her because it is a demanding 10 minutes.
Should we also salute Banse? Yes indeed. These days, she can sound less apt to be rushed by the tempo here and there, can offer Italian a tad better sculpted - witness her splendid Per Amore album. But not to fret. On the Fiamma CD, recorded in 1998, she is still in her twenties and at the outset of her prime, which lasts yet. What's more, this is no rub-down with a velvet glove of pretty sounds; this is the translation into exhilarating music, by a dramatic soprano of great skill, of humans in their passion. ("Goodbye, my beautiful flame, it has not pleased heaven to make us happy," goes a text.) Banse gives us the voice of a young woman of soul, womb and blood.
A salute also for Silke Avenhaus. She plays the piano obbligato in Ch'io mi scordi di te?, which Mozart wrote for himself to play, with a light-fingering neatness just right for the era and the fount of its composition.
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