HAYDN Italian Arias / Quasthoff, Goltz 4777469

The German bass-baritone Thomas Quasthoff comes to Haydn's rescue with this wonderfully varied medley of arias. The first surprise is the dramatic vigour of the opening track, "Non, v'e rimedio" from L'infedelta delusa : Haydn wasn't supposed to be as characterful as this. The second is the number of operas represented (nine), reminding us that the theatre played a huge role in Haydn's life. The third surprise is the earthiness of Quasthoff's interpretations, lending what he calls a "healthy emotionality" to arias that tend to be sung with classical poise. Accompanied by the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra, Quasthoff whets our appetite for these neglected works.

. . . here we have Thomas Quasthoff, one of the finest bass-baritones of the present time, telling us excitedly that he finds Haydn's operatic arias. . . a great joy to sing. He puts a great deal into his performances, characterising the texts, especially the jovial or intendedly comic ones, with relish . . . all the performers give of their liveliest, with brisk tempos, emphatic dynamic shifts and enjoyably barking trumpets.

. . . plenty of richness in Thomas Quasthoff's bass-baritone to savour here. And oodles of character, as he clearly delights in exploring a largely unfamiliar gallery of operatic roles. A most enjoyable addition to Haydn year by a major singer . . . Quasthoff's performances are vividly imagined and splendidly sung. He characterises each role with relish . . . Quasthoff's top register . . . rings out freely in a mock-heroic number for the foppish braggart Perucchetto in "La fedeltà premiata", portrayed to the life by Quasthoff. As ever, he savours the sound and sense of the words, greedily gobbling up his consonants in the song of the gluttonous monk Calandro ("L'incontro improvviso"). In serious mode, he brings a gravely eloquent legato to the numbers for Caronte and Creonte, and commands both the height and the depth for the fine, dignified arias from "Armida" and "L'isola disabitata" . . . the rhythmically lively Freiburg period band match him all the way in colour and gusto.

Quasthoffs Interpretationen sind lebhaft im Ausdruck und hervorragend gesungen . . . Wie immer bringt er Klang und Gehalt der Texte zur Geltung und charakterisiert intensiv jede Rolle.

Thomas Quasthoff's voice takes every advantage that Haydn's baritone arias offer to show off its different colours, unafraid to characterize with boldness and nuance. . . . Under Gottfried von der Goltz, the 32-member Freiburger Barockorchester supplies lithe support in this natural-sounding SACD. At just the right moment to freshen the palate, Genia Kühmeier provides delightful partnership in a dupe's duet from "Il mondo della luna", making us crave more such variety.

Quasthoff's potent yet mellifluous bass-baritone is just right for most of them [Haydn's baritone and bass arias], and he is in superb voice . . . Quasthoff invests each one with personality and character . . . The period-instrument accompaniments are worthy of the singing, and the recorded sound is ideal, focusing on the voice without ever shortchanging the ensemble. I compared several arias with those in complete-opera recordings; Quasthoff's is always the more vital, more engaging rendition. No superlatives can do justice to this recital . . . Everyone should acquire this disc.

Quasthoff singt die Arien souverän mit breitem Ausdrucksspektrum, durchaus operngemäß aus der dramatisch-pastoralen Situation heraus. Das Freiburger Barockorchester unter Gottfried von der Goltz korrespondiert kräftig-kontrastreich, farbcharakteristisch.

Diese CD mit Arien und einem Duett gibt dem Sänger ausreichend Gelegenheit, seine starke Ausdruckskraft zu demonstrieren. Gleich in der ersten Arie gestaltet er eindrucksvoll Gefühle des zwischen Ärger und Hoffen schwankenden Nanni aus der Oper "L'infedelta delusa", ebenso impulsiv dargestellt der König Rodomo, dem Quasthoff mit schwebend geführter Stimme den gefühlvollen Abschied des Fährmannes Coronte gegenüberstellt ("Orlando paladino") . . . diese gelungene Hommage an Joseph Haydn [sollte man] voll genießen.

In dem abwechslungsreichen Programm, das Quasthoff in die Rolle eines tölpelhaften Bauern, eines Schürzenjägers oder eines bramarbasierenden Königs schlüpfen lässt, wirkt die Stimme gleichsam von selbst "saftig". Und Quasthoff scheint alles daranzusetzen, diesen Eindruck von der interpretatorischen Seite her noch zu verstärken. Er malt mit breitem, tief in die Farbe getunktem Pinsel und artikuliert mit wahrem Ausdrucksfuror, um dann . . . in warme Kantilenen einzutauchen . . . [eine] CD, zu der das Freiburger Barockorchester unter der Leitung von Gottfried von der Goltz einen subtil-geschmeidigen Beitrag leistet.

Ce qui fait alors qu'on ne s'ennuie pas, c'est l'intelligence coutumière de l'artiste, son aptitude à donner aux mots ce qu'il faut de poids et de relief, à camper des caractères avec une truculence jamais forcée . . . On appréciera enfin la participation de la toujours charmante Genia Kühmeier, duettant avec Quasthoff dans un extrait du "Mondo della luna", ainsi que l'accompagnement out aussi amical d'un Freiburger Barockorchester gorgé de vie et de couleurs.