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The audience recovers a great Mozart tenor in Rolando Villazon.
on 25 February 2014
Solo albums of Mozart’s concert arias for tenor aren’t widely recorded as sopranos’.
Some notable ‘Mozart tenors’ did not met with an enviable plight since the legendary Fritz Wunderlich’s all too early demise at the age of 35 in 1966: in 2007 the American Mozart tenor par excellence Jerry Hadley died at the age of 55. Three years later Scottish born Austrian tenor John Dickie died aged barely 57. They did not record any complete album of Mozart concert arias, nor do eminent Mozart interpretors Francisco Araiza and Michael Schade. Indeed, not too many tenors chose to devote his major career to the works of Mozart after the days of Anton Dermota and Peter Schreier. Hence it is a real joy when Villazon himself claimed that the discovered a entirely new operatic world in Mozart.
Rolando’s new album on Mozart is about the most exciting vocal solo album since 2010, for the star tenor virtually found his ‘real stuff’ in this composer’s work. The timbre is as if tailor-made for these arias. Actually audience already got an early glimpse of this tenor’s glory in this composer’s operas when the live performances of ‘Don Giovanni’ and ‘Cosi fan tutte’ were released in the past two years.
Mozart’s Concert Arias are not really ‘popular’ works on discography as such, but they will soon become such, after Rolando’s terrific recording came out.
Villazon’s fully lyrical and flexible tenor voice finds such great affinity with Mozart’s musical lines that it is astounding – Mozart must have written the works for HIM! Both the recitatives and the arias are stylistically rendered, and even if one would wish for an even more ‘Rococo’ sort of refinement of delivery, there is little to fault really for Rolando shapes the phrases so elegantly that one used to his former ‘style’ would be utterly surprised.
Villazon’s Mozart has that quintessential element of ‘drama’. He is so emotionally alert and sensitive to every word, every phrase, every note, that there is simply no one single bland note, and blandness is, of course, the greatest deadly sin in Mozart. Nor does Villazon over-dramatizes. The drama is always well contained within the Viennese classical style, in the crystal-clear enunciations so the lyrics come out even in greater conviction. This is a jaw-dropping feat in Mozart interpretation that leaves one no choice but to admit that Villazon is born to sing Mozart! He has the timbre, the style, the temperament, the musicality…Really, nothing could be better.
Antonio Pappano’s LSO plays with great musicality and Mozartian style as well, and offers a perfect backdrop to Rolando’s great singing.
The only, and actually a minor, quibble is that in the final release of this wonderful recording, instead of the originally scheduled 7 tracks there are 12, which means that some scenes are being split up. The splits are not always a happy one, as for instance in tracks 5 and 6, on which Mozart marked a clear ‘attacca’ for the entry of the aria after the recitative.
Despite this minor technical flaw, this album is the best solo vocal album to come out in a decade.
Bravo, bravo, Rolando!