Review – Mozart Arias. Annette Dasch, Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin & Marc Piollet
Buy this CD. It’s as simple as that. In the plethora of recital CDs by new and up-and-coming singers that quite literally litter the racks, Annette Dasch’s recital disc of Moart arias stands out.
I was fortunate enough to stumble on this CD while browsing the rather excellent CD shop at the Staatsoper Wien while waiting to attend a rather marvellous performance of Die Frau ohne Schatten. Having her recording of arias by various composers for the character of Armida led me to grab this CD.
Ms Dasch has a bright and agile soprano of which she displays great control in terms of dynamics and graceful fluidity. Firm and even throughout her range she also is in possession of a remarkable interpretative intelligence in each and every aria. There’s no excessive ornamentation and more to the point her own small interpretive decorative gestures around unexpected phrases delight rather than irritate Dove sono is a case in point for example.
And not only is her diction faultless but she puts meaning behind the text itself. Listen to her performance of the recitative of E Susanna non vien for example. Frustration, then hesitation then anger are all most effectively conveyed.
The recital disc covers all the major Mozart operas plus Zaide’s, Il Re Pastore and Lucio Silla and as much as possible the arias as grouped with respect to the operas they are from. And for the first time in a long time it was a joy – and I mean a joy – to revisit these old numbers. Ms Dasch breathes real life and honest interpretation into every single track.
The first three tracks are from Le Nozze di Figaro. Opening with Porgi Amor is really a make-or-break decision – sublimely beautiful but notoriously difficult to carry off, get it wrong and it can marr the entire recital. No worries here however as Ms Dasch – sensitively accompanied by the Akademie für Alte Musik – makes her musical intention clear – a beautifully poised, intelligent and faultless performance that sets the standard for the rest of the disc.
And that standard doesn’t slip.
Rune Sanft mein Holdens Leben with its oboe obbligato is delicately spun out with those vocal flourishes that I mentioned earlier adding to – rather than distracting from – the melody that Mozart rolls out. And there’s no hint of strain as Ms Dasch leaps on ‘Leben’ as is sometimes the case. Piollet takes the mid-section at quite a canter but doesn’t sacrifice the overall musical intelligence of this performance which is somewhat heightened with the return opening section and a sense of ‘preghiera’ in terms of Ms Dasch’s dynamic control.
Each and every aria is so beautifully performed it would be easy to write about each and every one but I sense that listening to the disc without too much commentary would be best.
But watch out for the vocal decorations in L’amerò costante for example; revel in the drama she unfolds in In quali ecessi … Mi tradi and how she effortlessly manages Donna Elvira’s sweeping phrases. Her Donna Anna is also a marvel. After a poignantly delivered recitative, her Non mi dir is both eloquent and dignified and Ms Dasch defies challenging tessitura and sails through the coloratura with incredible ease.
Non più di fiori from La clemenza di Tito and the two arias from Così fan tutte that follow throw into bold relief the rich and even tone that Ms Dasch has from her gleaming top notes to her resonant lower register. And in Fiordiligi’s two arias Come Scoglio and – for me the highlight of the entire disc – Per Pieta this incredible range is married with faultless technique as she flings off the coloratura with precise abandon. And hats off to the dexterous French horn player.
Ach, Ich Fühl’s brisker-than-normally expected pace blows cobwebs off what can sometimes seem a dirge with most singers. Again more ‘preghiera’ that hapless heroine formats Dasch and the same can be said for Giunia’s aria Fra i pensieri più funesti from Lucio Silla where the Akademie’s plangent wind sonorities are most effective in the opening section.
And no more fitting an end to a musically meticulous recital than A fuggi il traditor. The faux Baroque mannerisms are attacked with relish by the orchestra as Ms Dasch for one final time ratchets up the sense of dramatic to deliver an ovation-inducing Donna Elvira.
Throughout the soprano is brilliantly supported by Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin under the direction Marc Piollet. This is authentic instrument playing of the highest standard. Alongside the gutsy string playing – you can almost feel the players digging into the music at some points – I was once again reminded of a sense of ‘wind band’ in the luminous playing of the wind and brass sections. Piollet drew an amazing sound from all the players and directed the entire ensemble and Ms Dasch with great sensitivity and understanding through some of Mozart’s most famous aria. It was almost as if I was hearing them for the very first time.
And one thing that keeps turning over in my mind every time I listen to this disc – and I have returned to it repeatedly? That Ms Dasch displays the same innate musical intelligence and clear joy of singing this music as Ms Edda Moser.
I have made it a general rule never to travel abroad for Mozart except in exceptional circumstances. Ms Dasch is about to put a pleasurable strain on my finances methinks.
I can’t recommend this recital enough. Enjoyment assured.