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Mozart wrote forty-one symphonies and twenty-seven piano concertos. And yet the work which said everything for him, the genre of music he truly thought to be the crucial currency of a composer, was the opera.
Mozart considered opera to be the supreme musical language, where everything was perfectly possible and, with a genius such as Mozart’s, possibly perfect. Mozart would have just hit thirty and had been enjoying one of his most successful periods when The Marriage of Figaro received its premiere. He was in Vienna, at the centre of the musical world and away from what he considered the parochial restrictions of his native Salzburg.
One contemporary reporter, who was lucky enough to witness Mozart himself directing the entire opera from the keyboard, said, ‘Mozart directed the orchestra, playing his fortepiano; the joy which this music causes is so far removed from all sensuality that one cannot speak of it. Where could words be found that are worthy to describe such joy?’ Apart from the wonderful Overture, vocal highlights include the divine ‘Sull’aria’ duet, and the aria ‘Porgi’.
Carol Vaness; Nuccia Focile; Alessandro Corbelli; Alastair Miles; Susanne Mentzer; Scottish Chamber Orchestra and Chorus; Charles Mackerras (conductor). Telarc: 3CD80725.
Illustration: Mark Millington