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Subject: New recording: Edita Gruberova Mozart Arias CD
From: Niel Rishoi <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Niel Rishoi <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Sat, 4 Jan 2014 16:38:00 -0500
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For the first time since 1991, Edita Gruberova has released all-new
recordings of Mozart arias:


Edita Gruberova singt Mozart-Arien 1 CD 54:34 DDD
Nightingale Classics NC 0715602 P2013 C2013
Recorded in 2013 - studio recording.
l'arte del mondo (orchestra), Werner Ehrhardt (cond.)
1. "Traurigkeit ward mir zum Lose" (Die Entführung aus dem Serail)
2. "Martern aller Arten" (Die Entführung aus dem Serail)
3. "Non mi dir" (Don Giovanni)
4. "Come scoglio" (Cosi fan tutte)
5. "Giunse alfin il momento" (Le nozze di Figaro)
6. "Soffre il mio cor" (Mitridate)
7. "Lieve sono al par del vento" (Il sogno di Scipione)
8. "D'Oreste d'Ajace" (Idomeneo)

When I first glanced at the track listing several weeks ago, I was fairly
astonished and a little apprehensive.  These generally are not the sort of
arias a soprano in her mid-sixties undertakes, much less records, for all to
hear. 

I was again astonished when I finally heard the CD.  Gruberova has in the
last few years been re-studying with a new teacher, Gudrun Ayasse, to deal
with the changes a voice goes through when it ages. This CD may be said to
represent the results.  It in many ways recalls, still, the Gruberova of
long ago, when she first documented these arias, the oldest being from 1977
- but with, naturally, some concessions; but it *is*, undoubtedly, of a
soprano who has held on, miraculously, to her fundamentally outstanding
resources.  This audacious feat, at this age, is surely unprecedented.  One
can’t pretend that all is perfect (an unrealistic expectation at any age,
anyway); there are notes here and there that are slightly off-color, either
in tone or in pitch. But in regards to this accomplishment, I repeat this
true story: A legendary violin teacher took his student to hear an aged
virtuoso play in a concert. The virtuoso, now with stiff, arthritic fingers
which fumbled a few notes, played his music to the effect that the teacher
said to his student, “Don’t you wish you could play wrong notes like that?”   

Gruberova, aged virtuosa, still, sagaciously commands this music as if it
were written for her. I propose that Mozart, in which she received her
earliest training, remains her specialty composer, and I believe it is where
Gruberova’s legacy will be most universally held in the highest acclaim. 

The outright winner here is the “Martenarie.”  You’d swear it was a singer
30 years younger, so sure is the attack, and confidently sung are the
numerous cascading scales.  What a joy it is to hear those two held high Cs
near the end still so secure and shining.  The “Traurigkeit” is sung with
equal aplomb, poignant, beautifully phrased, and incredibly
youthful-sounding.  Gruberova recorded this role commercially twice, was
captured on video for a now-famous release, and these final, triumphant
statements are in line with the excellence of her earlier work.

The same holds true of Susanna’s treasurable gem, which some may find the
most warmly appealing and sympathetic on the disc, as befits the music.  You
get here a totally different persona than the grand heroics of the other
arias.  

The biggest surprise, though, is perhaps “Come scoglio,” which Gruberova
does with superb, rousing spirit and again, marvelously strong attack; the
triplets are cleanly dispatched, and she manages the low sections quite
well.  She recorded this in 1988 for the soundtrack of the
Ponnelle/Harnoncourt film version, and this one is, remarkably, very
similar.  For those who may inquire, Gruberova never sang Fiordiligi on stage.

“Non mi dir,” one of her signature arias, is long-lined, finely controlled,
each breath one of expressing emotionally into the phrase. The upward finish
to the first section is exquisite, delicately tapered. The concluding
section’s coloratura is, as ever, handled with complete ease and authority.

The two most curious choices, and welcome ones at that, are the arias from
MITRIDATE and Il SOGNO DI SCIPIONE - both operas of which Gruberova
participated in complete recordings from the late 1970s.  As far as I know,
this is the first time she has sung these arias since recording them over 30
years ago.  I actually prefer the newer rendition of the MITRIDATE piece. 
In the complete recording, her large, penetrating tone was not well
captured, the microphone audibly placed too close; you can hear the overload
as her highest notes explosively emerged rather hard.  Though less
forthright and fierce than decades previously, it could be that the more
appealing warmth of her voice now makes me prefer the newer one. I confess,
though, if an aria had to be culled from MITRIDATE, I would have requested
the gorgeously sinuous “Lungi da te,” with its distinctive, unique French
horn accompaniment.  “Soffre il mio cor” is rather conventional, replete
with staccati and florid divisions.

“Lieve sono,” from SCIPIONE, deals with the goddess Fortuna, who tells
Scipio in his dream that she enjoys doing things like erecting buildings and
then gleefully destroying them. This aria has a “windswept” quality, set
with copious amounts of rapid coloratura, and though early Mozart, is very
comely and quite remarkable.  Gruberova’s earlier rendition, well-recorded,
is a marvel of instrumental precision and dazzling virtuosity.  Few has her
authority in Mozartian *opera seria*, where voice and technique are ideal;
she has a way of negotiating the “noodles” (as Mozart called them), that are
a joy to behold. No intrusive aitches and aspiration - there are no “ha”-
ing preparatory puffs of air on each phrase start or after an intake of
breath. It all falls like strings of fluidly-placed pearls.  The newer
version of “Lieve sono” on this recital I listened to a few times before
drawing a conclusion.  The one recorded in 1979 is something I go back to
often; the 2013 version, I realized, is recorded much closer, and therefore
less “spacious” in aural quality. It was hard to get used to a different
sonic, because the other one is “locked” into my aural memory. But it is no
less authoritative, and how admirable it is to take the risk of returning to
it after such a long, long spell!   

Elettra is a role she never sang onstage either, but recorded complete for
John Pritchard in the 80s; it was flabbily, anemically conducted.  This
newer essaying of “D’Oreste D’Ajace” is more fiery, expressively despairing
and frustrated. There are a few points where the attack could have been more
immediate, but the overall result is impressive - the downward, treacherous
staccati is as fluent as ever.

I think this disc will be held as a sterling representation of a singer, in
the late autumn of her career, as an example of both resourcefulness and
longevity. 

For those interested in ordering: 

http://www.amazon.com/Arias-Mozart/dp/B00GI4AR2S/ref=sr_1_1?s=music&amp;ie=UTF8&qid=1388864094&sr=1-1&keywords=gruberova+mozart

All best,

Niel Rishoi

 

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