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Mozart - Le nozze di Figaro / Marriner (Highlights)

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Audio CD, 25 Oct 1990
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program)

Amazon.com: 0.0 out of 5 stars 0 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars How far can four of five leads, or two of three major leads 14 Oct. 2013
By Jon Miller ('Kirk') - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
carry a performance, along with a very good but not great conductor. In this Nozze di Figaro, I find Hendricks (Susanna),
Popp (Countess), Raimondi (Count) and Baltsa (Cherubino) five star worthy, especially Hendricks, Popp and Raimondi. However,
I find Jose Van Dam an unattractive Figaro. His voice sounds unfocussed and wooly c.f. Siepi for Kleiber and Prey for
Bohm. Both Popp and Hendricks sing with luscious tone and dramatic focus. Popp is far from monochromatic, maintaining a regal presence, while becoming deeply wounded by her husband's faithlessness before his Act IV apology (whether or not
the repentance lasts is moot). Marriner secures zesty playing from the ASMF but I would like less speed and more dramatic
expression along the way. Bohm/DG/1968 and Ponto/Japan/1963/Ponto and Kleiber/Decca (see my reviews) remain preferable, but the contributions of Popp, Hendricks, Raimondi
and Baltsa plus those in minor roles such as Felicity Palmer, Robert Lloyd and Aldo Baldin are not negligible.
12 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Far Cry From the Best 31 Dec. 1999
By wellio@wa.freei.net - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
I borrowed the complete recording from a friend, and this is a misfire!
Van Dam and Hendricks are ok as Figaro and Susanna, but they are certainly overshadowed by their counterparts; Taddei and Moffo on Giulini's set, Mathis and Prey on Bohms set, and Popp and Ramey on Solti's set.
Speaking of Popp that is the biggest misfire on this set. Popp has always been one of my favorite sopranos but her Countess is VERY lacking and does not contain the emotion or grace of that of Kanawa, Schwartzkopf, Price, Janowitz, or Fleming.
Marriners conducting, as usual, is brilliant, but the short comings of the cast (on all the principle roles) does not compensate for the brilliant conducting.
If you're interested in Figaro I much recommend Giulini's, Bohm's, Muti's, and Solti's sets far above this one. Those are my four favorites.
If you are an avid Figaro nut then this will be fine to add to your collection, I am - but I won't be adding this one. It did nothing for me.
Note - The Giulini Figaro is only about 22 bucks for the whole thing.
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply the best 29 Feb. 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
It is such a tragedy that this superb recording is only available as a highlights package from Amazon, although the complete set IS available from other suppliers so I would suggest that anyone who is interested should shop around. Believe me, it is well worth the effort!
So where do I start? Well, let's begin with Lucia Popp whose performance seems to have aroused a certain amount of contention between the other reviewers. For me, she gives an unsurpassed performance as the Countess, combining the pride and dignity of her status with the poignant tragedy of a woman who has lost the affection of the only man she has ever loved. A truly wonderful legacy of a great singer.
Barbara Hendricks gives a perfectly adequate performance,although I would prefer a rather more lively Susanna than she shows in her solo arias. However, her ensemble singing is excellent, and the duet with Popp 'Che soave zeffiretto' a truly memorable performance - much better than that heard in the 'Shawshank Redemption'!
Jose van Dam's 'angry' Figaro can be slightly off-putting to people used to other portrayals, but for me, epitomises the character's total bewilderment at his inability to control events as he has been in the habit of doing (remember, this is the sequel to the Barber of Seville)and makes his scene with Susanna in the final Act (where he pretends to mistake her for the Countess) so much more effective. As for his interaction with the Count - it just continues the splendid partnership he shared with Raimondi in the wonderful Losey film of Don Giovanni.
And what of the Count, himself? A vintage (champagne, that is) Raimondi performance (in a role which is not one of his favourites) - need, I say more? Never believe that on a CD it doesn't matter whether or not a singer can ACT! It is even MORE important that,in the absence of visual aids, a performer can by the 'shading' and timbre of his voice portray the character's emotions. Suffice it to say, that his Count is arrogant, obstinate, self-deluded, completely maddening and totally irresistable!
As for the 'minor' roles, Aldo Baldin (Basilio) Robert Lloyd (Bartolo),Donald Maxwell ((Antonio) and Neil Jenkins (Don Curzio)all give marvellous performances. Agnes Baltsa, as one would expect from this talented and vastly under-rated singer, is an almost perfect Cherubino, and Catherine Pope (Barbarina) sings like an angel in the hauntingly beautiful 'L'ho perduto...me meschina' - and all for a lost pin!
As if all this weren't enough, Neville Marriner shows why he is considered by many to be the greatest interpreter of Mozart in living memory. I can't believe that anyone should praise the Muti recording (wonderful,like all his performances, if you happen to be a Muti fan, dreadful if,like me, you adore Mozart's music) and Abbado's which, is adequate, but certainly not memorable.
Having said all this about the individual roles, I believe that it is in the ensembles that this recording far outshines all other performances. Here you have great singers , not one of whom feels the slightest need PROVE that they are by dominating the performance [How I wish the likes of Te Kanawa, Pavarotti (in his hey-day), Domingo(to a certain extent), Milnes, and latterly, the vastly over-rated Tyrfel would learn this lesson]. Their job (a mundane word, but that, after all, is what it is) is to be the MEDIUM through which the composer's ideas are transmitted, NOT to endeavour to show the world what great singers THEY are. After all,if they paid more attention to the music, maybe (just maybe) all the glory they seek would naturally come their way.
And finally, a word about the record companies. How long are we, the consumers, to put up with accountants telling us which recordings we want to listen to? How can you get through to such people that newer doesn't necessarily mean better? If Philips have definitely discontinued this marvellous recording, then I can only hope that the splendid 'Opera D'Oro' will re-release it. Maybe, Amazon, as a major retail outlet, could help in this regard.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fragment of a great achievement 4 Dec. 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
This is my favorite recording of Figaro out there -- and unfortunately it's also out of print at the moment. Only this highlights disc is available. The casting is excellent -- the contrast between the voices of Hendricks and Popp being especially effective. Van Dam's rather angry Figaro might not be to everyone's taste, but I think it works. Raimondi's tone is just right for the Count. To me what makes this Figaro work so well is Popp's Countess and Marriner's conducting. Popp is often remembered as an incomparable Queen of the Night and Susanna, but I think her portrayal of the Countess is her real achievement. Her incomparable voice suggests so well the dignity, maturity and yet also the fragility and pain of the Countess. Both of her arias are included in this highlights disc (the second aria's interpretation is piercingly beautiful), as well as the gorgeous last scene of the opera. Marriner's conducting is lively without degrading Mozart to an orchestral showpiece. It is expressive without being affected, and it shows a good feel for Mozart's music (as Marriner's Philips recording of the Requiem also demostrates!). If anyone involved with Philips is reading this, I hope the company will re-issue the complete recording soon! I waited too long to order it for myself! Besides, such an excellent interpretation deserves to be in the catalogue again.
1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Technicaly wonderful but of a superficial nature. 18 Feb. 2003
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
This recording, overall is very well done with great orchestration by Marriner on a technical level and a satisfactory cast that moves the thing along but I did feel it was lacking. Personally, I find Marriner's approach technical fluid and uncluttered with great harmonization etc., but I find that this very approach also creates a coldness and sense of detachment to the performance, especially in some of the ensemble elements. Of course the two ensembles that they did include on this CD are the two most well performed and orchestrated from the full recording as would be expected of any highlights CD.
I find Raimondi's style very distracting. His emotional range is excellent but his jarring speech-like singing is very annoying. Popp has some nice arias but gets drowned out during the common moments of the Act 4 finale. Someone has already mentioned that Baltsa is a bit of wonky Cherubino so I won't worry about saying anything more on her. Hendricks is a light and delicate Susanna while Van Dam is a dark and dreary Figaro.
Three stars for "good but not great"...
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