MOZART Arias / Kozená

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W. A. MOZART

Arien · Arias
Magdalena Kozená
Orchestra of the Age
of Enlightenment
Sir Simon Rattle
Int. Release 01 Sep. 2006
1 CD / Download
0289 477 6272 0 CD DDD AH
ARCHIV Produktion
Magdalena Kožená and Sir Simon Rattle present their first recording together


Tracklisting

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

Act 4

with embellishments by Domenico Corri

Act 2

Magdalena Kozená, Orchestra Of The Age Of Enlightenment, Simon Rattle

Magdalena Kozená, Orchestra Of The Age Of Enlightenment, Simon Rattle, Jos Van Immerseel

Così fan tutte, K.588

Act 1

Act 2

La clemenza di Tito, K.621

Act 2

Magdalena Kozená, Orchestra Of The Age Of Enlightenment, Simon Rattle

Idomeneo, re di Creta, K.366

Act 1

Magdalena Kozená, Orchestra Of The Age Of Enlightenment, Simon Rattle, Jos Van Immerseel

Le nozze di Figaro, K.492

Act 1

Le nozze di Figaro, K.492

Act 3

Magdalena Kozená, Orchestra Of The Age Of Enlightenment, Simon Rattle

Gesamtspielzeit: 1:07:55

Simon Rattle draws superior playing from the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, nicely captured by DG's lucid, mellow sound. He's partnered by the Czech mezzo, Ko¿ená, exploring a wide range of Mozart arias . . . Regular assignments such as Dorabella and Cherubino fit her like matching gloves . . . Ko¿ená's sensitive musicality, the gentle warmth of her tone, an intelligent approach to whatever she sings.

[Review James Inverne]: Here is a singer with both a rich, colourful and 'alive'-sounding voice and the musical intelligence to use that gift . . . motherhood or maturity (or both) have somewhat changed her sound. It is fuller now, and she is, if anything, even more confident and at ease with her talent than previously . . . Jos van Immerseel makes it two CD picks in a row with his contribution from the fortepiano . . .
[Review Roger Wigmore]: If anyone has recorded a lovelier Mozart recital in recent years, I've yet to hear it. In her early thirties, Ko¿ená is now consummate mistress of her art. Her liquid high mezzo, with its easy upward extension, combines warmth with the bloom and freshness of youth, while her coloratura, on display in 'Al desio di chi t'adora' . . . is as brilliant and expressive as Bartoli's, yet without the Italian diva's intrusive aspirates . . . Rattle's claim is hard to refute . . . she 'lives' each of these wide-ranging characters intensely . . . The vivid, tangy accompaniments from Rattle and the OAE go well beyond mere good style . . . Fortepianist Jos van Immerseel is an equally sympathetic partner in an impassioned yet intimate performance . . .

Elsewhere in this glorious recital, Ko¿ená gives a deeply moving account of Vitellia's remorseful final aria in "La clemenza di Tito", sorrow etched into the texture of her voice, and catches all the tenderness and anguish of Ilia in "Idomeneo". The accompaniments from Rattle and the OAE match her in character and point, while fortepianist Jos van Immerseel makes a sensitive partner in "Ch'io mi scordi di te", that sublime love duet for voice and piano . . .

Here another of the leading singers of our time, the Czech mezzo Magdalena Ko¿ená, shows why she is in such demand with arias from "Le nozze di Figaro", "Idomeneo", "Così fan tutte" and "La clemenza di Tito". She sings an adorable 'Deh vieni' . . . There are dazzling performances of Vitellia's 'Non più di fiori' and Ilia's 'Padre, germani', as well as Cherubino's 'Voi che sapete' with Corri's ornamentation. Her versatility is evident in arias from "Così" for Fiordiligi ('Per pietà'), Dorabella and Despina. Stylish accompaniments are provided by the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment conducted by Sir Simon Rattle.

As if being one of the brightest young stars on the opera scene weren't enough, Magdalena Kozená has also established herself as one of the premier artists of the 2006 Mozart anniversary year, following up her complete recording of La clemenza di Tito with this impressively varied recital of the composer's arias. The Czech mezzo's Mozart chops are implicitly acknowledged by her record label . . . In purely artistic terms, the investment was sound . . . Gossip hounds will know that Kozená and conductor Sir Simon Rattle are one of classical music's power couples these days, but this collaboration ¿ their first on disc ¿ makes it clear that mixing the personal and the professional is paying dividends, not just for these artists but for all of their listeners too.

The stunning Czech mezzo Magdalena Ko¿ená reaches deeper into Mozart's women with this new recital and comes up with some fine music-making . . . Rattle is a sympathetic conductor. Appoggiaturas are wisely and widely added.

The stunning Czech mezzo Magdalena Kozená reaches deep into Mozart's women with this new recital CD and comes up with some fine music making . . .

. . . she gives abundant evidence that she, too, is one of the choice Mozartians of our time, and no admirer of hers should overlook this disc . . .

They are in character, are appropriate and, to my ears, altogether charming . . . her words are clear . . . 'Deh vieni, non tardar' . . . suits Ko¿ená to perfection, is full of unexpected beauties and brings a patchy disc to an inspiriting conclusion.

. . . Magdalena Kozená has almost nothing of mezzo coloration in her voice, a fluid, agile, sunny yet emotionally potent instrument somewhat reminiscent of the late soprano Lucia Popp. Here Kozená offers her first recorded collaboration -- and a most pleasing one -- with Simon Rattle . . . The pair presents a dozen Mozart arias, worked to a high gloss yet not lacking in spontaneous-sounding touches . . . Throughout the program, Kozená is highly sensitive and expressive in using stylish appoggiaturas and other decorations . . . the orchestral playing and solo instrumental work prove excellent . . . this album . . . makes a superb souvenir of one of our most interesting and radiant-voiced current interpreters. It would provide new opera listeners an excellent introduction . . . to some of the most beautiful arias ever written for the female voice.

One of the most delightful Mozart singers on today's stage, 33-year-old Czech mezzo-soprano Magdalena Ko¿ená could scarcely have assembled a more winning Mozart recital disc . . . Most Mozart lovers, though, will fall easily for this disc.

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

Wie ein warmer Sommerwind weht einem der Gesang der tschechischen Sängerin ins Ohr, ein grandioses "Non so più cosa son", ein feines "Non più di fiori vaghe catene". Großen Anteil an dieser frischen Mozartbrise hat auch das Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment unter der Leitung von Simon Rattle. Es zeigt, dass Star-Begleitung keine lieblose Pflichtübung sein muss. "Ich wünschte, Mozart hätte etwas länger gelebt und mehr für Mezzosopran geschrieben", sagt Magdalena Ko¿ená. Das wünschten wir uns auch!

Einiges, was ihre neue CD mit Mozart-Arien bietet, wird auch Fachleute verblüffen. Neben Paradestücken wie den Schmachtgesängen des liebeskranken Cherubino aus "Figaros Hochzeit" singt sie charmant-temperamentvoll dessen Freundin Susanna . . . bravourös. Nun muss die Mezzo-Überfliegerin nur aufpassen, das Intendanten sie nicht gleich in einer kompletten Sopranpartie besetzen wollen.

. . . hier [ist] eine selten schöne Sammlung von Arien entstanden, die die gesamte Palette an Ausdrucksmitteln, über welche die Sängerin verfügt, zur Geltung bringen. Die Auftrittsszene der Ilia etwa interpretiert die Sängerin mit beispielloser Schlagfertigkeit, einer Intensität, wie man sie in dieser allzu oft an der Oberfläche haftenden Partie lang nicht gehört hat. Susannas Rosenarie gestaltet sie mit wundervoll sensibel gespannten Phrasen und bringt hier gleich in der ersten Nummer des Albums ihr knisternd nervöses, sinnlich elektrisierendes und perlig tropfendes Timbre wundervoll zum Ausdruck. Die Verzierungen der Despina-Arie "In uomini, in soldati" gurgelt sie mit koketter Ironie und Vitellias "Non più di fiori" singt sie mit lebensbejahender Leidenschaft . . . Die Sängerin versteht es, den Hörer mit den zahllosen Farben und Schattierungen ihres Timbres in den Bann zu ziehen . . . Im Ganzen . . . ein erfrischend expressiver Mozart -- und Leidenschaft pur.

Traumpaar: Die hinreißende tschechische Mezzosopranistin Magdalena Ko¿ená und der englische Pultstar Sir Simon Rattle haben eine wunderbare CD mit Mozart-Arien eingespielt -- traumhaft.
Eine, um die man sich keine Sorgen machen muß, ist die tschechische Mezzosopranistin Magdalena Ko¿ená . . . Die Ko¿ená zieht auf dieser ungewöhnlichen CD alle Register . . . sie tut das nicht nur mit Leichtigkeit und ohne Anstrengung und Volumenverlust in den Höhe, sondern auch mit der ihr eigenen intensiven emotionalen Einfärbung. Sir Simon ist ihr mit dem Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment ein . . . konziser und unentbehrlicher, impulsgebender Begleiter, zu dem -- im Fall der Idamante-Arie -- ein luxuriöser zweiter Akkompagnion in Gestalt Jos van Immerseels am Hammerklavier tritt. Eine ungewöhnliche, geradezu perfekt gelungene CD, die beweist, daß der Plattenmarkt trotz mancher Ödnis noch immer grüne Oasen zu kreieren vermag.

Ein schönes Paar, die tschechische Mezzosopranistin und der englische Dirigent, auch künstlerisch. Rattle führt das superb aufgenommene Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment leicht und zart koloriert, was der eher leichten Stimme seiner Partnerin sehr zupass kommt. Frau Ko¿ená stemmt gekonnt Sopran- und Mezzo-Partien von Idamante bis Fiordiligi . . . insgesamt fühlt sich Magdalena Ko¿ená sehr gut in die vielen Charaktere ein.

. . . es [ist] eine wunderbar leichtgewichtige, dabei reichhaltige und abwechslungsreiche Reise ins Mozart-Land geworden. In einem "Le Nozze di Figaro"-Digest erblüht ein flirrend erotisierter, ziemlich handfest triebgestauter Cherubino in Susannas feinfühlig auskolorierter, glockig sprühender Rosenarie. Und auch "Al desio di chi t'adora", die Alternativarie für die Wiener Wiederaufnahme, wird dargereicht, wie immer mit leicht hauchigem, doch höchst ausdrucksvollem Tonfall.

Unvergessen ist mir auch der Januar 1993, als ich auf einer Einspielung des Mozartrequiems zum ersten Mal die Stimme Magdalena Ko¿enás vernahm. Diese Stimme war elektrisierend, warm, leicht und strahlend . . . Sie hat sich seit damals nicht verändert, weder Magdalena Ko¿ená, noch ihre herrliche Mezzosopran-Stimme, eine geradezu ideale Stimme für Mozart ¿ und nicht nur für diesen . . . sie ist der Omphalos dieser Aufnahme, die Achse, um die sich alles dreht, der germanische Weltenbaum, auf dem alles ruht . . . Das Gesamtergebnis . . . ist ein einziger Traum und eine Sternstunde von wahrer Musik Mozarts. Herzlichen Dank dafür!

Musikalisch ist das erste Gemeinschaftsprojekt zweifellos gelungen . . . [es] gelingt hier zum Ausklang des Jubiläumsjahrs ein durchaus unterhaltsam-beschwingter Mozart . . . Ihr Ruf ist so makellos wie ihre Stimme, die Kritiker sind stets begeistert von der Klarheit ihres Organs, der Leichtigkeit und Musikalität, mit der sie ganz unterschiedliches Repertoire zu interpretieren weiß. Es gibt nur wenige Mezzos, die sowohl auf der Opernbühne als auch im Konzert diesen Sangeszauber zu versprühen wissen, wie die Ko¿ená ¿ was auch ihren Schnellstart in die Klassikwelt erklärt.

Eine Stimme so rein wie ein kühler Sommermorgen, das Timbre eines keuschen Chorknaben . . .

Expression chaleureuse, voix magique, tout ce qu'elle interprète transporte l'auditeur. D'autant plus quand l'accompagnement est fourni par l'orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment et le chef Simon Rattle.

[Mozart Album]: Les voix sont belles, le chant souvent exquis, la musicalité de tous les participants bien en évidence.

[Timothée Picard]: Un miracle, tout simplement . . . un récital qui, par sa seule beauté, une beauté pleine, vivante, qui dépasse largement la simple phonogénie pour se révéler discrètement recréatrice, s'impose comme un fondamental. Voilà le tour de force. Car il faut commencer par là: Magdalena Ko¿ená, c'est d'abord et avant tout une voix d'une stupéfiante beauté . . . un mezzo-soprano avec un tiers supérieur pur, aisé et particulièrement lumineux . . . un timbre velouté et chaleureux, un chant investi et frémissant, qui la sauvent de toute fadeur et de toute joliesse . . . une technique et un goût d'une incroyable sûreté, qui la rendent excellente partout . . . Faut-il dire qu'avec Simon Rattle, classique d'esprit lui aussi, . . .expressif, d'une légèreté gracieuse mais vivante, elle trouve un accompagnateur idéal? Respiration, nuance, coloris: tout est à l'unisson, tout est parfaite symbiose . . . tout est admirable, et fait de ce disque le récital majeur, pour l'instant, de cette année anniversaire.
[Pierre Massé]: Voilà un beau récital, coulant de source.

Demostrando, como apunta Rattle, que Mozart es una segunda naturaleza para ella, Kozená hace posible la maravillosa simbiosis entre la música y la psicología de los personajes cantados, logrando que cada uno suene con distinto acento, auténtico y rebosante de frescura. Y por supuesto, está la mano del maestro, que aporta su toque maravilloso a una grabación de fantasía.
    "Singing Mozart is second nature to her"

Magdalena Kožená and Simon Rattle record Mozart Arias







No, Magdalena Kožená is not about to claim a special connection to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, or say that he's her favourite composer, but the Czech mezzo is clearly indebted to Salzburg's Wolferl for some of her greatest triumphs to date - for example, victory in the 1995 Salzburg Mozart Competition, which led straight to the launch of her international career. And later, whether in her debut at the New York Met, or at the Aix-en-Provence Festival, or at the Vienna Festival, it was always Mozart's showcase roles that accompanied her ascent to the top rank of international stardom. Even her official operatic debut was blessed with Mozart: Dorabella in Così fan tutte, sung in Czech! Kožená, however, doesn't find any deeper meaning hidden in that, and, amid all the hype circulating in the Mozart Year her own explanation sounds quite rational: "A young singer with a light voice almost automatically makes her debuts in Mozart roles."

Mozart also ultimately had a hand at Glyndebourne in spring 2003, when, out of the artistic relationship between singer Magdalena Kožená and conductor Simon Rattle, a personal relationship developed. But that's no more than a marginal anecdote, to which, with a sly wink, one might add: Blame it on Idomeneo.

Not blame but luck lies behind the artistic constellation of this, their first joint album. Setting the tone along with Magdalena Kožená in this homage to Mozart are the men and women of the renowned Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. Rattle has worked closely with these specialists on aspects of historical performance practice since the ensemble's founding in 1987, and he knows the advantages of this type of orchestral sound: "It's more articulate and clear, and it seems to liberate the singers, to give them room to be creative with the music."

And indeed there is a virtually perfect interplay here between the sound of the orchestra and the voice of Magdalena Kožená. "I must admit I don't feel too comfortable singing some of these arias with a modern orchestra, because in modern tuning they don't lie quite so well for the voice. When I sing with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, tuned to 430 Hz, the colours are different. It's all less aggressive and sounds more velvety, and it gives me more freedom of interpretation. With this orchestra, it's simply ideal", Kožená adds enthusiastically. "But the important thing, ultimately, is that the musicians play the music the way I feel it. Then it doesn't matter if it's an early-music ensemble or a modern orchestra."

It's not easy to get these two super-busy and actually quite media-shy stars together for an interview. That finally happened in Berlin - home of the Berliner Philharmoniker, whom the charismatic Englishman has served for years as chief conductor - where Sir Simon spoke of Kožená as a Mozart interpreter: "Singing Mozart is second nature to her because it comes from such a deep knowledge of the music and the style. There is an extraordinary symbiosis between the music and the character portrayed: each woman on each track of this disc is a completely distinct personality."

For her part, Magdalena Kožená reveals that she alone compiled the programme for this recording, and completely according to her own preferences - with one exception: Rattle had to persuade her to do Ilia's aria from Idomeneo, a big challenge, as she herself acknowledges. "I had already recorded all the Mozart arias written for my voice, and so for this album I tried some that weren't", she says, smiling, then quickly adding: "It was kind of a joke." But a joke that contains more than a grain of truth. Thus the album contains, among other things, the wonderful aria "Non più di fiori" from the incontestably soprano part of Vitellia in La clemenza di Tito - a work that she recently tackled for a celebrated complete recording, but singing Sesto, the bravura role for every Mozart mezzo-soprano.

Another atypical part for a mezzo is that of Susanna: Kožená sings the famous Act IV aria, "Deh vieni", but also a different version as well. "Unfortunately I learned too late that Mozart composed no fewer than three arias for Susanna in the fourth act of Figaro. Otherwise I'd have included all three - because I love to compare different solutions for the same dramatic moment."

Her selection from all three female characters in Così fan tutte, on the other hand, was not intended to be a comparison: "Only after putting together a list of arias that I would like to sing, and that I could sing, did I suddenly realize that all three roles were on it." Unlike her fellow mezzo Cecilia Bartoli, with whom she sang the pair of sisters in Così in 2004 she has no intention of attempting Fiordiligi on stage. The third in the triumvirate of Così roles, Despina, is one she'd prefer to keep for later: "I'd like to get a bit older before playing the crafty servant ..."

But Magdalena Kožená doesn't confine her selection to the famous operas. Two of the best-known concert and insertion arias from Mozart's pen are also to be found in this album. "'Ch'io mi scordi di te?' with orchestra and fortepiano accompaniment is an astonishing piece. If you do a Mozart recording it has to be there. The same is true of 'Vado, ma dove?', which is so extremely beautiful", Kožená explains. Then Rattle interjects: "It's interesting. 'Vado, ma dove?' was written as an insertion aria, to be performed in another composer's comic opera. Its effect is absolutely devastating. What this must have done to that poor composer's opera, I cannot imagine."

A question about the rehearsals for this album elicits an amused response from the two artists and, in typical Rattle fashion, the conductor answers with an illuminating little story: "One year when I was in London I lived in Pimlico, which is right near the Tate Gallery. It was the only year that I didn't regularly go to the Tate - because it was close by and I thought to myself: 'Oh, I can always go.' A lot of the things for this recording Magdalena and I never rehearsed together because we always thought: 'Oh, there's so much time - we'll get to that.' But when it came to rehearsing with the orchestra, there were points where I realized: 'I have absolutely no idea what cadenza Magdalena is going to do now.' We've collaborated on so many Mozart productions that we simply sense what the other is feeling about a passage, even if we haven't worked on it that much." Completely in agreement, the mezzo adds: "I've always enjoyed the pleasant feeling that Simon, when he works with someone, really trusts them and believes in the inspiration of the moment."

Asked whether she might consider enlarging her repertoire of Mozart arias by transposing certain soprano pieces for her tessitura, Kožená recoils, shocked: "I couldn't possibly do that. It would be a different piece. Mozart wrote in a particular key, at a certain pitch, because he wanted a special sound. I know that in the 19th century it was quite normal for singers to take a piece and arrange it to suit their voice. I don't know if my attitude is authentic or not, but I simply wouldn't feel comfortable transposing a Mozart aria a tone lower." Sir Simon chimes in: "If you ring up Mozart, he will probably say: 'Don't be ridiculous, do whatever you like. Actually I've got half an hour so I can write you a transition into the other key. Or, give me an hour and I'll write you a whole new aria'."

But Kožená the romantic, still not prepared to agree to that sort of pragmatism, merely sighs: "Ah, I wish Mozart had lived longer and written more for mezzo-soprano." And now, let someone claim that Magdalena Kožená doesn't have a special relationship to Mozart ...

4/2006