High time for a review of classical CDs that were outstanding in 2013. My lists for the previous years: 2012, 2011, (2011 – “Almost”), 2010, (2010 – “Almost”), 2009, (2009 – “Almost”), 2008, (2008 - "Almost") 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004.
# 2 - New Release
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart / Kasper Holten, Juan, Lars Ulrik Mortensen (conductor), Concerto Copenhagen et al., axiom|FILMS AXM044
W.A.Mozart / Kasper Holten
L.U.Mortensen / Concerto Copenhagen
C.Maltman, M.Petrenko, E.Futral,
M.Bengtsson, K.Dragojevic et al.
Kasper Holten’s Juan is a film “based on Mozart & Da Ponte’s Don Giovanni”, a defensively deflecting claim to convey that the work has been translated, tailored, and adapted from the original. What it really is, though, is the freshest, most authentic reanimation of the opera I know… a masterpiece in itself for its treatment of another masterpiece. Not authentic, of course, to those who look for authenticity in form and on the surface, rather than in essence and meaning.
The venture, always sung on location rather than set to a superimposed soundtrack, seems like it was tailored around the ravishingly suave Christopher Maltman, and in a way it’s a continuation of the stupendous “perfect conservative production” that Claus Guth produced in Salzburg between 2008 and 2011. (See 2010 review.) The cast includes a host of brilliant singing actors, one more moving, touching, arousing than the next, chief among them Elizabeth Futral’s tragic Elvira, Maria Bengtsson’s potent Anna, Katija Dragojevic’s tantalizing Zerlina, and Mikhail Petrenko’s rough hewn Leporello. The music is driven splendidly by the original instrument Concerto Copenhagen and Lars Ulrik Mortensen who are as vivid as the images of this thrilling movie (that happens to be an opera).
As Paul Johnson writes in (the just about only insightful part of) his “Mozart – A Life”: The notion of the irresistible force (Giovanni) crashing into an immovable stone object (Commendatore) is a glorious one, well spelled out by some of the best music Mozart ever wrote. Holten spells it out on film, literally, in a way that has to be seen by anyone with half an open mind. The release schedule for this film is all over the place. If you have an international-region player (or computer), you can best get the DVD or Blu-Ray very cheaply from the UK or Germany.
# 2 – Reissue
Ludwig van Beethoven, The String Quartets, Quatuor Végh, naïve 4871
L.v.Beethoven, The String Quartets
The String Quintets