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CD Feature/ Mozart: "Unknown Arias for Soprano"

img  Tobias

The title must surely be a joke, right? As we’re well into 2006, there are Mozart.boxes as big as the Encyclopedia Brittanica, enough new albums to last until the man’s next centenary, concerts on almost every day of the year as well as articles, interviews and books to make collectors cry for mercy. Just when every little bit of Mozart’s life seems to have been exploited, a disc comes along, claiming to have found some “unknown arias”. It seems to be too good to be true.

Yet there is nothing insincere about the claim – even 15 years after their discovery, one can still sense the aura of excitement that envelopes these nine pieces and smell the odour of old books and the cold and sour air of darkened libraries. For that’s where the manuscripts and scores were discovered, that’s where they were resurrected from the pool of lost memories by Dieter Klöcker, coincidentally also one of the musicians represented here. When it comes to Mozart, one has almost become accustomed to this kind of pseudo-sensations, to the most insignificant scribble being elevated to the status of manifested genius. But being a cynic won’t protect you from the beauty of these recordings, revolving around sacral issues and sung by the yearning, longing and intimate voice of Helen Donath. “Jesu, amor meus” is six minutes of eliptic harmonies, opening and closing endlessly in search of peace and “Cor sincerum” makes for a proud and powerful opening. “Jesus dulcis memoria” could well be an opera-outtake, as could quite a few of the others, who have a – err – classic touch and breathe an immediate and accesible air. Admittedly, there’s no significant straying from the proven formula and those holding a grudge against the Wunderkind will not find any of their prejudices or well-founded criticism dispelled. Everyone else can again revel in the shimmering flow and the elegance of these arias and sigh once more to that delicate change from major keys onto minor.

Klöcker is correct in asserting that these pieces blow the dust off the shelves of Mozart-recordings, which must by now be high enough to reach the moon by foot. On the other hand, those with less academic knowledge of the composer’s repertoire may well be induced to research his “regular” works for similar gems. And that’s no joke for sure.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Arts Music

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