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Classical Opera - Apollo et Hyacinthus - SA-CD.net


17 May 2012
SA-CD.net
Polly Nomial
5 Stars

This is the first instalment of Classical Opera's projected complete cycle of Mozart's operas - which is supported by the New Mozart Edition of Barenreiter - to be released in order of composition.

Apollo et Hyacinthus was written when Mozart was but 11 years old(!) for his school to perform. On the basis of the writing, perhaps those who complain of falling standards are right after all for neither the orchestral or vocal writing is in any easy. Nor is Mozart's writing in any way immature or lacking the characteristic Mozartian voice; as Ian Page's brilliant comprehensive yet concise notes relate, this is "opera which would justify occasional revival even if its creator had been four times the age when he wrote it." Somewhat surprisingly, the virtuosity of many vocal numbers is toned where lesser composers would (could?) not resist making a climax too early in the number and work as a whole.

The singers - some of whom may be familiar names - assembled are seven in number:
Andrew Kennedy (Oebalus)
Klara Ek (Melia)
Sophie Bevan (Hyacinthus)
Apollo (Lawrence Zazzo)
Zephyrus (Christopher Ainslie)
2 priests (Marcus Farnsworth & David Shipley)
and all combine to form the chorus when required.

After a short (sub-3 minute) "Intrada", the first of many lengthy recitatives is heard; the playing of Classical Opera's orchestra is just as inspired in both as they were in the recording of Arne's Artaxerxes (Arne: Artaxerxes - The Classical Opera Company). Such is the quality of playing that, together with imaginative phrasing from the singers, the relative length of the recitatives is unnoticed unless one studies the accompanying booklet. Lawrence Zazzo is a predictable highlight as Apollo and Klara Ek is simply radiant & dazzling in her aria "Laetori, iocari". Sophie Bevan wrings every last drop of drama from the first aria.

Christopher Ainslie is good and phrases sensitively even if he lacks that last ounce of flair that Ek brings to the proceedings. At the end of Chorus 1, Ek & Zazzo duet to thrilling effect; if Mozart could have heard this he would surely have been delighted. Andrew Kennedy in his aria and later duet with Ek is very well done indeed; one can readily hear the prototype for many more illustrious Mozart male figures to come. This duet has to be heard to be believed that an 11-year old could write such marvellous music (the accompaniment prefigures Soave il vento remarkably) and both singers audibly to such delights before a final recitative sets up the concluding Trio for Apollo, Melia & Oebalus.

As with the quality of the singing and playing, Ian Page's direction must be praised for he steers the line between pushing the music forwards without rushing matters. His treatment of the recitatives are especially important for they account for nearly as much music as the arias, duets, trio & chorus numbers do; everything seems to the musical drama and the pace perfectly offsets those chosen for the other numbers.

Lastly, this would be a frustrating experience were it not for the fine Linn recording that allows every note to be heard in isolation and yet still have a coherent whole to them. We are accorded the finest stalls seats and providing your fellow listeners are considerate, there are no disturbances that afflict many an opera performance. The booklet comes in English, French & German with full translations of all aspects.

An auspicious & thrilling start to what will surely prove to be an historic recording project.

Bravo!
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Mozart: Apollo et HyacinthusMozart: Apollo et Hyacinthus