BRYN TERFEL Tutto Mozart!

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W. A. MOZART

Tutto Mozart!
Bryn Terfel sings
concert and opera arias
Bryn Terfel
Miah Persson · Christine Rice
Scottish Chamber Orchestra
Sir Charles Mackerras
Int. Release 01 Sep. 2006
1 CD / Download
0289 477 5886 0 CD DDD GH
Bryn Terfel unveils an irresistible new Mozart album


Tracklisting

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 - 1791)
Le nozze di Figaro, K.492

Act 1

Bryn Terfel, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Charles Mackerras

Così fan tutte, K.588

Act 1

Miah Persson, Christine Rice, Bryn Terfel, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Charles Mackerras

Bryn Terfel, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Charles Mackerras

Così fan tutte, K.588

Act 2

Bryn Terfel, Christine Rice, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Charles Mackerras

Don Giovanni, ossia Il dissoluto punito, K.527

Act 1

Die Zauberflöte, K.620

Act 2

Le nozze di Figaro, K.492

Act 3

Bryn Terfel, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Charles Mackerras

Bryn Terfel, Miah Persson, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Charles Mackerras

Die Zauberflöte, K.620

Act 1

Bryn Terfel, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Charles Mackerras

Le nozze di Figaro, K.492

Act 3

Bryn Terfel, Miah Persson, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Charles Mackerras

Don Giovanni, ossia Il dissoluto punito, K.527

Act 2

Bastien und Bastienne, K.50

Bryn Terfel, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Charles Mackerras

Die Zauberflöte, K.620

Act 2

Bryn Terfel, Miah Persson, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Charles Mackerras

Don Giovanni, ossia Il dissoluto punito, K.527

Act 1

Bryn Terfel, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Charles Mackerras

Die Zauberflöte, K.620

Act 1

Bryn Terfel, Miah Persson, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Charles Mackerras

Le nozze di Figaro, K.492

Act 4

Bryn Terfel, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Charles Mackerras

Gesamtspielzeit: 1:03:36

This Mozart disc features a Bryn still very much at the top of his game . . .

Figaro's 'Non più andrai' announces Terfel's immediately engaging character presence -- even in extracts -- and his joy in the leaping life of words. And half the pleasure of this disc is the contribution of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, with Sir Charles Mackerras setting the perfect pace for Così's great terzettino (with Miah Persson and Christine Rice), and with the lightest, most seductive orchestral accompanying for 'Là ci darem' . . . Best of all, perhaps, are Terfel's own excited discoveries: the priceless 'Cat duet', with Persson again, from "Der Stein der Weisen"; his noble and tender valediction in the concert aria, 'Io ti lascio, oh cara' . . . the totally authenticated nonsense sorcery, 'Diggi, daggi' from "Bastien und Bastienne"; and the insertion arietta 'Un bacio di mano', of which Terfel makes an irresistibly tasty morsel.

Terfel¿s immensely enjoyable contribution to Mozart's anniversary . . . Terfel sings with exquisite musicality . . . It is impossible to think of another contemporary baritone who could conjure up this combination of tonal opulence, intelligence and dramatic instinct in Mozart; this has to be one of the discs of the year.

. . . this delightful disc reminds us of Bryn Terfel's eminence as a Mozart singer. Whether as Figaro, Papageno, Guglielmo, Don Giovanni or Leporello, he brings style and interpretative insights to everything, not to mention wonderful diction. With Sir Charles Mackerras and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra as ideal accompanists, it is one marvellous thing after another . . . oh, just go out and buy it.

Its assets prove richly rewarding: careful blending of familiar and unfamiliar repertoire; an artist totally seasoned in the composer's style, but clearly approaching it afresh; stimulating collaboration between that artist, his supporting singers and his conductor; and excellent presentation by the record company . . . Sir Charles Mackerras's lifelong affinity for Mozart is evident everywhere in his superbly shaped accompaniments. The Scottish Chamber Orchestra plays with much beauty and technical adroitness. With admirable sound, notes and translations, this release is a winner and a distinguished addition to the Terfel discography.

. . . he sings the birdcatcher's songs with mingled robustness and breezy charm ¿ and just the right hint of pathos. Moving up the social scale in "Figaro", his Count is suave, sexy . . . And is there another Wotan who could despatch the volley of triplets at the end with such panache? The range of colours in Terfel's voice ¿ a one-man bass-baritone orchestra ¿ remains astonishing. His Count, Giovanni, Leporello . . . and Figaro . . . are all marvellously vivid, distinctive personalities. The Mozart soprano-of-the-moment, Miah Persson, makes an enchanting accomplice in various duets, and Mackerras's accompaniments are models of style and point . . . complete a charismatic recital.

Bryn Terfel is always at his best in Mozart, which perfectly suits his bass-baritone's in-built elegance, and shows off its scope without over-stretching . . . This album is an absolute delight, the showman in Terfel revelling in the different characters. Some lesser-known arias accompany the pops.
. . . this [CD] has been carefully planned to demonstrate Terfel's many-faceted gifts as a Mozartian, boxing the compass of roles and pieces for bass-baritone . . . His Figaro . . . is nicely distinguished from his Count Almaviva, both brought before us by his pointed use of the Italian text. Similarly his suave, insinuating Giovanni is very different from his earthy Leporello, the timbre for each part cleverly differentiated . . . O the rare operatic items and separate arias he gives a particularly dramatic account of "Così dunque tradisci" and finds the gentle Entführung-like humour of the incomplete "Männer suchen stets zu naschen" . . . Miah Persson . . . appears with charm and distinction in six items . . . The quality of the disc is confirmed by Sir Charles Mackerras's authoritatively Mozartian direction and fine playing from the Scottish Chamber Orchestra. The recording has both space and presence.

. . . all are well represented here . . . Papageno is another role that he was surely born to sing. His fully developed character sounds a gentle soul. Each of the three extracts . . . are lightly and delightfully voiced; here Terfel's mezza voce never sacrifices tonal quality . . . Not only does Terfel's voice suite the roles well, but he enters fully inside them. There's a fine balance between his use of text as sound and meaning. 'Non più andrai' is delivered not simply as a showpiece but with almost conversational intimacy; one can practically see Cherubino standing ¿ hunched, and flinching at every line . . . The mildly suggestive 'Männer suchen stets zu naschen' . . . is good fun, 'Io ti lascio' . . . a charmer . . . Terfel is on top of it, as he is of everything here, and though a great deal of thought and study must have gone into each performance everything is sung with spontaneity. He really is at his best on this disc . . .

Terfel sings with his usual mix of power, subtlety and likability.

. . . extremely enticing . . . Ms. Kozena sings gorgeously on every number here [Kozena Arias] . . . The Welsh bass-baritone displays remarkable versatility [Terfel: Tutto Mozart!]

. . . this disc provides an appealing traversal of the composer's writing for the bass-baritone voice . . . Terfel's reputation as perhaps the foremost Mozart bass-baritone of his generation is only enhanced by this disc. His reading of each aria carefully observes the indications of the score . . . His considerable talents as a vocal actor are well employed also as he is required to project character at every vocal dynamic, and he is acutely aware of the meanings of the texts he sings, too. Where the text is itself absolutely nonsensical -- "Diggi, daggi, schnurry, murry" -- he relishes it regardless, and uses it as a vehicle to display the quality of his lower range. It would be a mistake though to think this a disc containing only one talent, since Miah Persson's light, fluid soprano and Christine Rice's youthful mezzo are distinct assets. Their contributions maintain the high standard that Terfel establishes . . . The Scottish Chamber Orchestra accompanies stylishly; the playing of the brass betrays the influence of period-instrument practices, which imparts a welcome tang to the orchestral sonorities. Mackerras's conducting is pointed, and does not draw undue attention to itself. The recording is amply clear, what the voices placed forward of the orchestra and microphoned at close range, but not too much so. Highly recommended.

Man muss ihn hören, seine unbändige Energie, sein Charisma und seine Gestaltungskraft auf der Bühne erleben, um zu begreifen, warum Bryn Terfel zurzeit in seinem Gesangsfach so ziemlich einzigartig ist.

Dass ausgerechnet . . . Bryn Terfel bei der DG ein Album von ganz besonderer Qualität gelungen ist, liegt sicher an der einmaligen Musikalität des Sängers und dessen Intelligenz, die ihn bei aller Linienführungskunst eine Synthese von kontrolliertem Atem und Ausdrucksmöglichkeiten präsentieren lässt. Da gibt es . . . einen Abwechslungsreichtum, der von einer Differenzierungskunst des Wallisers getoppt wird, die ihresgleichen sucht und eine einfach wunderschön gelungene Produktion ergibt. Nicht zuletzt auch dank der überaus ambitionierten Begleitung durch den erfahrenen und dabei so sicher im Zeitmass agierenden 80-jährigen Sir Charles Mackerras am Pult des Scottish Chamber Orchestras vergehen 60 Mozartminuten wie im Fluge und auf einem hohen Niveau, das man rückblickend vielleicht vor Jahrzehnten von einem Fischer-Dieskau erinnert, wenn dieser ganze Alben einem Komponisten widmete. Bryn Terfels Mozart ist aktueller denn je, weil er unaffektiert berührt.

Bei der Mahnung des Propheten schien eine Posauen in die Kehle des walisischen Baritons gefahren zu sein. In England wählte man ihn kurz darauf zum "Young Artist of the Year", an den führenden Bühnen der Welt wurde er als "Welsh Wonder" begrüßt ¿ nicht nur wegen seiner exzeptionellen Stimme, auch, weil er als Darsteller eine magnetische Wirkung hatte. Seither gehört Bryn Terfel zu den internationalen Spitzenkräften. Kürzlich wurde ihm der von der Töpfer-Stiftung ausgelobte Shakespeare-Preis verliehen, an diesem Wochenende wird er als "Sänger des Jahres" den Echo-Preis erhalten . . . so hat Bryn Terfel sich . . . jede Auszeichnung verdient, etwa durch seine Londoner Aufführungen als Wotan und als Scarpia. Um so erstaunlicher, daß Terfel sich die stimmliche Flexibilität bewahrte, um unmittelbar nach den Londoner "Ring"-Wochen mit "Tutto Mozart" seinen Beitrag zum Festjahr zu leisten . . . Bei seinem Mozart-Recital mit dem Scottish Chamber Orchestra unter Sir Charles Mackerras beweist Terfel einmal mehr singdarstellerische Wandlungsfähigkeit.

Der walisische Hüne scheint sich für diese CD vor Mozart ganz tief verneigt zu haben: 19 Nummern und jede ein Erlebnis. Denn Bryn Terfel ist in jeder Partie eine andere Person. Und der Bassbariton bringt all diese Charaktere zum Leben, unterstützt vom funkensprühenden Klang des Orchesters, das Sir Charles Mackerras immer auf der Stuhlkante spielen lässt.

Bryn Terfel hatte Zeit und Gelegenheit, im April in Glasgow ein auch in der dramaturgischen Abfolge geglücktes Mozart-Album neu aufzunehmen und sich mit Nachdruck ¿ und gereiften Neuinterpretationen ¿ als einer der besten und modulationsfähigsten Mozart-Sänger unserer Zeit in Erinnerung zu rufen . . . Zu seinen Begleitern erkor der . . . ECHO-Klassik-Preis Geehrte den britischen Mozart-Grandseigneur Sir Charles Mackerras und das Scottish Chamber Orchestra ¿ eine erste Wahl, wie das überzeugende Ergebnis beweist . . . Mit modulationsfähigem Timbre erzeugt er ¿ stets mit großer Persönlichkeit ¿ die aus der jeweiligen Situation kommenden emotionalen und klanglichen Facetten: verblüffend hell und leicht als (Pa-Pa-Pa-Pa)-Papageno, voller Sonnenwärme im Duett mit Pamina, mit anrührender, aber nicht sentimentaler Melancholie in "Ein Mädchen oder Weibchen". Großartig und gültig auch die "Registerarie" des Leporello und, ganz besonders gelungen und im Charakter getroffen, die große Arie des Conte di Almaviva. Auch Glanzlichter im Baßregister setzt Bryn Terfel, etwa mit dem "Diggi, daggi, schurry, murri" des Colas aus "Bastien und Bastienne", das er als Kontrast gleich auf das (hoch liegende) "Giovanni"-Ständchen folgen läßt. ... Ein großer Sänger als Ausdrucksträger von Mozarts liberaler und auch so humorvoller Menschlichkeit.

. . . er [fand] in Charles Mackerras einen Idealpartner . . . Terfel spielt seine Autorität und alle Facetten seiner Interpretationskunst aus . . .

Bestes Recital. Ansprechend und kommunikativ kommen sie daher, die 19 Tracks auf Bryn Terfels »Tutto Mozart!«. Ob als Figaro, Don Alfonso, Paganeno, Don Giovanni, Leporello oder in Konzertarien, Terfel findet einen packenden Zugang, geht virtuos mit den Farben der Verführung, des Zynismus, des Scherzes oder der Verzweiflung um. Dabei wird er subtil von Charles Mackerras und der federnden Leichtigkeit des Scottish Chamber Orchestra unterstützt . . . Terfel hat hier eine seiner besten Solo-CDs aufgenommen . . . es ist eine frische, abwechslungsreiche CD, die von Terfels musikalischer Gestaltungskunst, manch überraschender fioritura und der Lebendigkeit Mozarts lebt.

. . . dieses Recital . . . ist eine willkommene Ergänzung zu schon vorhandenen Aufnahmen, da sich das Mozart-Kompetenz-Team Terfel, Mackerras, Scottish Chamber Orchestra ohne Ermüdungsroutine einigen Glanz- und Zuckerstücken aus den Opern widmet . . . Der in den letzten Jahren zunehmend ins dramatische, gar heldische Fach hineingewachsene walisische Bassbariton weiß die Stimme wunderbar zurückzunehmen und trumpft nur auf, wo es dramatisch notwendig ist . . . Besonders gelungen sind die Ensembles mit der Sopranistin Miah Persson und dem Mezzo Christine Rice, in denen das durchgehend federnd-schwerelose, rhythmisch-beschwingte Mozart-Spiel des Scottish Chamber Orchestra unter Charles Mackerras für einen heiteren Grundton sorgt. Wie Terfel im Verführungsduett aus »Don Giovanni« die erotische Faszination aus dem Piano gewinnt und dann im Klang zunehmend opulenter und vereinnahmender wird, ohne ins Brutale abzurutschen, ist beispielhaft.

Es gibt zurzeit wohl weltweit keinen anderen Sänger als Bryn Terfel, der so überlegen singt, so treffsicher gestaltet, stets mühelos und mit einer Stimme, die eine Inkarnationsfähigkeit ohnegleichen hat. Ob Drama oder Komödie, Terfel ist immer bedeutungsvoll bei der Sache und bewegt den Hörer mit unter die Haut gehenden, ergreifenden oder köstlichst unterhaltsamen Klängen. Sein Stimmmaterial ist immer noch völlig unverbraucht und besticht durch vollendete Phrasierung, perfektes Atmen, stupende Nuancen und eine optimale Textverständlichkeit. Miah Persson und Christine Rice sind ihm vortreffliche Partnerinnen in den Duos und Ensembleszenen, und das Scottish Chamber Orchestra unter Mozart-Spezialist Charles Mackerras begleitet in optimaler Weise. Vollendeter Mozart-Genuss!

Nach wie vor brilliert Terfel mit einem bemerkenswerten Reichtum an gesanglichen Finessen, Phrasierungsgeschmack und dynamischer Differenziertheit. Zumal in den beiden Verführungsduetten Don Giovanni-Zerlina »Là ci darem la mano« und Guglielmo-Dorabella »Il cor vi dono« entfaltet er die erotische Faszination seines Singens ganz aus dem subtilen Spiel mit Piano- und Pianissimo-Nuancen und setzt die wenigen Forte-Akzente mit unnachahmlichem Raffinement. Im fabelhaften Scottish Chamber Orchestra und im offenbar über die Frische der ewigen Jugend gebietenden Charles Mackerras hat der Bassbariton ideal harmonierende musikalische Partner.

Que Terfel soit un mozartien de tout premier plan ne fait absolument aucun doute bien sûr: il y est peut-être la voix d'homme la plus marquante de cette dernière décennie . . . c'est du très beau Mozart et de l'excellent Terfel, et il y a toutes les raisons de vouloir le(s) découvrir ici.

El barítono-bajo Bryn Terfel hace alarde de toda su potencia vocal con una selección de números escritos para su tesitura, pertenecientes a las más conocidas óperas del genio de Salzburgo. Terfel está exhultante como Fígaro en el 'Non piu andrai, farfallone amoroso', a la vez que es el pérfido Conde en 'Vedrai, mentr'io sospiro', y borda las arias de Papageno, Leporello y Don Giovanni. ... Genial.

Su interpretación de las obras del compositor salzburgués es intensa y nunca deja indiferente al auditor.

    BRYN TERFEL - TUTTO MOZART!

    No composer has written more gracefully, more wittily for bass and bass-baritone than Mozart; and no contemporary singer has made more of that uniquely Mozartian combination of grace and wit than Bryn Terfel. As he says, "I sang Mozart in most of my major debuts: at La Scala in Milan, the Metropolitan Opera in New York, at Covent Garden, and at both English and Welsh National Opera. Mozart really wrote well for the bass-baritone voice, which is purely my voice."

    In Le nozze di Figaro, the first of the three operas Mozart composed with librettist Lorenzo Da Ponte, we hear Terfel as both the philandering Count (a role he has not yet sung onstage), and as his manservant Figaro (which he first sang at Welsh National Opera in 1990). Terfel reveals two sides of the Count's personality; there is predatory charm in "Crudel! perchè finora" as he tries to interest Susanna in a secret rendezvous. Minutes later, in "Hai già vinta la causa...Vedrò mentr'io sospiro", he is once more the haughty aristocrat, furious that his servants are running rings around him. Figaro echoes the Count's anger in "Aprite un po' quegli occhi": faced with the wiles of a beautiful woman, the servant, like the master, is all at sea. In "Non più andrai", a more confident and not entirely likeable Figaro gloats that Cherubino can no longer play the "amorous butterfly". Nowhere do we see more clearly what Terfel calls "the twinkle in Mozart's eye".

    Terfel again presents both master and servant from Don Giovanni, the second of the Mozart/Da Ponte collaborations. In "Madamina, il catalogo è questo", Terfel's Leporello (first heard at New York's Metropolitan Opera in 1995) seems to hope that Giovanni's amorous prowess has rubbed off on him. Giovanni himself (a role Terfel first took in Paris in 1999) is at his most seductive in "Là ci darem la mano". Who could blame the unsophisticated Zerlina for melting into his arms? Later, in "Deh, vieni alla finestra", Giovanni serenades the (unseen and unheard) maidservant of Donna Elvira: when it comes to women, Giovanni is the complete egalitarian.

    Terfel made his stage debut at Welsh National Opera in 1990 as Guglielmo from Così fan tutte, the last of the operas Mozart wrote with Da Ponte. The conductor, as on this recording, was Sir Charles Mackerras. Mozart knew that, if we are to believe what we see in Così, the music must be absolutely sincere, despite the plethora of disguises and deceptions. In "Soave sia il vento", Fiordiligi and Dorabella, in the company of Don Alfonso, bid farewell to their soldier-lovers; we know that the women are being tricked, yet the music cuts to the quick. It will be some years, we assume, before Terfel plays Alfonso onstage. In age and physique, he is closer to Guglielmo. We hear him, in disguise, as an Albanian persuading his best friend's partner to swap love-tokens with him. Behind the disguise, the orchestra tells us, Guglielmo's heart beats as excitedly as Dorabella's.

    Die Zauberflöte is more philosophical quest than social comedy. At its centre is Tamino, a noble man in search of enlightenment. His unwilling companion Papageno has a quest of his own: he seeks the Papagena who will bear his children. Although Terfel has not sung the role onstage, his performances here suggest that he has the measure of this genial Everyman. "Der Vogelfänger bin ich ja" introduces the happy-go-lucky birdcatcher. Yet there is more to Papageno than first meets the eye. In "Bei Männern", his duet with Pamina, his depth of feeling matches hers, while "Ein Mädchen oder Weibchen", with its twinkling glockenspiel, is as heartfelt as anything in Mozart. By contrast, "Papageno...Papagena" shows him and the love of his life clucking ecstatically to each other. At such moments, and provided that the role is sung, as here, with both humour and empathy, Papageno seems closer to Mozart's heart than Tamino.

    A year before the premiere of Die Zauberflöte, its librettist Emanuel Schikaneder (also the first Papageno) unveiled another quest opera, Der Stein der Weisen, oder Die Zauberinsel ("The Philosophers' Stone, or The Enchanted Island"). Most of the music is by Benedikt Schack and Franz Xaver Gerl, but Mozart probably contributed at least one piece, "Nun, liebes Weibchen". Given Mozart's lifelong devotion to onomatopoeic nonsense, it is easy to imagine him relishing a duet in which a husband sings while his wife can only mew.

    "Diggi, daggi, schurry, murry" is nonsense of a different kind. Bastien und Bastienne had its premiere in 1768, when Mozart was twelve years old. In splendidly sonorous gibberish, the sorcerer Colas invokes sympathetic spirits to help shepherd Bastien regain Bastienne's love. (The opera had its premiere in the garden of Franz Anton Mesmer, whose name gave us the word "mesmerize", and whose hypnotic skills Mozart later satirized in Così fan tutte.)

    Some of Mozart's most powerful pieces were "insertion" arias, usually written at the request of a specific singer, sometimes inserted into his own operas, more often into others'. He composed only a few for bass; Bryn Terfel offers the most characterful. "Così dunque tradisci" was written, probably in 1783, for Ludwig Fischer, who created the role of Osmin in Die Entführung aus dem Serail and wanted to show himself equally at home in Italian opera. "Un bacio di mano", meanwhile, was written in 1788 for Francesco Albertarelli, Vienna's first Don Giovanni. The text's sardonic wit suggests that it may be the work of Da Ponte.

    Besides insertion arias, Mozart also wrote concert arias, which, standing free of any theatrical context, are often intensely dramatic. One such is "Io ti lascio, o cara", composed in 1791, around which a mystery hangs. Years after Mozart's death, his widow Constanze suggested that her husband had supplied only the string accompaniment, the vocal line being the work of his friend Gottfried von Jacquin. Although Mozart did not enter it into his work catalogue, some modern scholars accept that he wrote it all.

    On the other hand, he left "Männer suchen stets zu naschen" incomplete. Thought to have been composed around 1783, it was possibly intended for an unfinished (indeed, barely started) opera based on a translation of Carlo Goldoni's play Der Diener zweier Herren ("The Servant of Two Masters"). We hear it in the 1951 completion by Swiss composer Rudolf Moser.

    At the end of Bryn Terfel's survey, we may find ourselves thinking that Mozart's capacious humanity is revealed most clearly in the music he wrote for basses and bass-baritones. As Terfel suggests, "Mozart's music is the pinnacle of human imagination. It brings life, and it encompasses everything."

    Nick Kimberley


    I'd Take Mozart to a Bar

    Bryn Terfel presents a birthday gift to Mozart

    Let's talk about the repertoire of your new CD of Mozart arias. Is this a collection of your favourite arias or is it just a delightful mixture?

    When the bells rang on 27 January this year in Salzburg to mark the 250th anniversary of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, the world became drunk on Mozart. For many people he represents the pinnacle of music - whether it's his symphonies, vocal, piano, chamber or choral works. In one little stroke of his pen he has been able to describe so many feelings. So I guess the first reason for this recording is that it's my little contribution to those anniversary celebrations. But also I wanted to delve deeper into Mozart's arias, including the lesser-known concert arias.

    On this disc you manage to sing Leporello both and Don Giovanni. How do you pull it off?

    Well, the fact that I've performed both these roles on stage makes it much easier. And it's fantastic to have somebody like Sir Charles Mackerras leading the Scottish Chamber Orchestra in the wonderful Town Hall in Glasgow. Sir Charles has made countless recordings and done countless performances of these operas. And he has been conducting since the age of eleven. One of the concert arias was written by Mozart when he himself was eleven years old, so in a way Sir Charles has been brushed by the same brush as Mozart.

    Are there any new roles you have just tried out on this recording?

    Yes. It would have been easy for me just to sing the arias that I have known and performed, but I wanted to try out things like the Count's Aria for instance, from the Marriage of Figaro. And Papageno is a role that I have never performed - so I wanted to delve a little bit into that character. But the concert arias are so varied: the fantastic 'Aspiri rimorsi atroci' starts with an amazing recitative and the aria has such dynamics and range that I can only try and attempt it. In a more light-hearted mood there's 'Männer suchen stets zu naschen': you know, men are always on the lookout for girls who tickle their fancy - they want to 'nibble' on these sweet things. But in Mozart there is always a little moral to the story, in this case: 'fathers, keep your sweet things locked up'!

    When you listen to the words of 'Männer suchen stets zu naschen', what do you think Mozart was like with women? Was he a bit of a Don Giovanni himself?

    Well, of course. There is always a twinkle in his eye, a little wink that shows Mozart had a sense of humour. Delving into these concert arias, you can see his mastery of many different styles. There is one aria, 'Diggi, daggi', that he wrote when he was just eleven years old. Listen to the string introduction - it's astonishing that he had such a grasp of orchestration at that age.

    You made your opera debut at Welsh National Opera as Guglielmo. Have you sung it on disc before?

    No, this is the first time that I've recorded Guglielmo, but it's a very important part for me. Così was the very first Mozart opera that I sang, and it was my British debut. I'd just left university and was immediately cast as Guglielmo by Sir Charles Mackerras - he was the first conductor that I ever auditioned for. I have very vivid memories of that: it was a very nervous day! You know, a young Welsh bass-baritone auditioning at the very start of his profession - to be given the role of Guglielmo was wonderful.

    What would you say is the most important experience you've had when working on Mozart?

    I think as a singer you always tend to remember the very first time you perform an opera. The very first time I sang Figaro, for instance, was in Santa Fé, which is a beautiful location in New Mexico. It was in the middle of the desert, and you expected to see cowboys appearing at any moment. It was a wonderful production and the cast included people like Susan Graham and Heidi Grant Murphy. We were all young singers just starting out with Mozart. I sang Mozart in all of my debuts - be that in La Scala in Milan, in the Metropolitan Opera in New York, in Covent Garden, in Wales for Welsh National Opera.

    Mozart's music seems so light and easy, but I imagine performing it is quite challenging. Before you started recording the Papagena/Papageno duet, both you and Miah Persson said it's one of the most difficult numbers in this recording. Why is that?

    From my point of view it's because for the last year I've been singing music at the other end of the spectrum - Wagner. So coming back to performing Mozart is like having a vehicle oil change - you have to check how your technique works with this composer. Young singers should never think that performing Mozart is one of the easiest things they can do. In fact, it's the complete opposite - it could be the most difficult. The repertoire that we have on this disc is a challenge. But I have to admit that Mozart really could write for the bass-baritone voice - exactly my voice - which means that I have so many roles that I can sing - from Papageno to Masetto to Figaro to Count to Don Giovanni to Leporello. It's just amazing the spectrum that's available for us to perform. And let's face it: every opera house wants Mozart in their seasons, so it's bread and butter for a performer also!

    For the many people who bought your last disc, Simple Gifts, if you had to recommend a piece from this disc to introduce people to Mozart, which one would you choose?

    Mozart is so well known that I don't think I need to introduce anyone to his work. As I said, it's the pinnacle of people's imagination where music is concerned. But if I was to be asked for my top three, they would have to be 'Non più andrai' and the Così fan tutte Trio, and of the concert arias, both 'Così dunque tradici' and 'Aspiri rimorsi atroci' are very special.

    If Wolfgang Amadeus was still around and you had the chance to meet him, what would you ask him?

    I enjoy collecting art, and sometimes I buy contemporary works. I imagine meeting Mozart would be like when you meet the artist himself and suddenly you feel so nervous that you can't think of anything to ask them! So instead I'd take Mozart to the perfect place - a bar in Scotland, with a glass of Lagavulin malt whisky for me, and for him... I'd choose something that's been in a sherry oak cask for quite a while, perhaps a 15-year-old Macallan. We'd have a good chat and I don't think it would be about music!