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Mojca Erdmann: "Mostly Mozart".


During this week from the 3th of October to the 9th of October, at 12:00 AM and 12:00 PM (Madrid Time), you can listen to excerpts from the new album of Mojca Erdmann: "Mostly Mozart".

Mojca Erdmann
"Mostly Mozart"

 

 

 Review from www.deutschegrammophon.com

 


A Muse for Mozart

The Muses have been revered as a source of divine inspiration since the time of classical antiquity and are said to encourage artists to give of their exceptional best. From this point of view, the Hamburg soprano Mojca Erdmann seems like a figure from the distant past. Although she is still at the beginning of what promises to be a major international career, she has already inspired a number of contemporary composers, including Aribert Reimann and Wolfgang Rihm. Indeed, Rihm even wrote the main role in his operatic fantasy Dionysos with the young soprano in mind. Her performances in the world premiere at the 2010 Salzburg Festival proved a tremendous personal success.

For her debut with Deutsche Grammophon, however, Mojca Erdmann has chosen a very different type of programme in the form of works by Mozart and his contemporaries: “Mozart has accompanied me all my life. Although my father is a composer and contem­porary music has always played a major role in our lives, for me there is nothing to beat singing Mozart, even though I feel an immense respect for him. You know exactly how it should sound, but it’s insanely difficult to achieve this.”

No one listening to Mojca Erdmann’s singing would suspect for a moment that she finds Mozart difficult. Indeed, her voice is almost ideally suited to the Austrian genius’s music. Her lyric soprano voice is remarkable not only for its beauty but also for its great flexibility and bell-like tone. And she enchants her listeners not just with her voice itself but also with the unconcealed emotionality of her singing: “Mozart goes straight to my heart. That may sound a little dramatic, but that’s how it is. He touches something deep inside me, and some­times the tears come unbidden to my eyes. It’s impossible to say why this should be so, but this magic may well be the secret of his success.”

At the heart of the present album is Pamina’s famous aria, “Ach, ich fühl’s, es ist verschwunden!”, for which Mojca Erdmann has deliberately chosen a slow tempo: “I was keen to express something very inward, very vulnerable. The listener should be able to gaze into this woman’s soul, the soul of a woman who is at her wits’ end and no longer knows where to turn. Her only release seems to be death. What interests me most of all is how exactly he intended his tempo indications to be interpreted. Above all with Pamina I’d love to know whether it would have worked for him if the aria were taken really slowly. Although it says ‘Andante’, it has to be as slow as this for me. If I sang it any quicker, there would no longer be any emotional depth to it.”

The Mozart arias feature alongside works by some of Mozart’s contemporaries and forerunners, works that have been almost completely forgotten but which Mojca Erdmann discovered while preparing for this release. They immediately aroused her interest: “In a letter to his father, Mozart writes very enthusiastically about the music to Ignaz Holzbauer’s opera Günther von Schwarzburg, for example. For me, it was interesting to see what Mozart thought about his fellow composers and how his own music is related to theirs. There are certainly a number of similarities. The aria from Paisiello’s Nina, for instance, starts in exactly the same way as ‘Ruhe sanft’ from Mozart’s Zaide.”

Mojca Erdmann was also surprised by the two arias from Salieri’s Les Danaïdes. Ever since Miloš Forman’s film Amadeus, Salieri has been viewed by the wider public as the man who murdered Mozart. Less well known is the fact that as a composer he was for a time more successful than his younger colleague. Mojca Erdmann, too, is enthralled by the musical quality of Salieri’s works: “Both arias are very short, but in spite of their brevity they are wonderful masterpieces. What Salieri packs into these two minutes is simply incredible.”

The result is an album that avoids the well-worn paths of the standard repertory and introduces listeners to some of the most beautiful arias from the early-Classical and Classical periods. One such composer is Johann Christian Bach, the youngest son of Johann Sebastian and a great influence on the young Mozart’s style. Another is the Viennese composer Ignaz Holzbauer, who wrote over two hundred sinfonias and fifteen operas, most of which have now fallen into neglect. Giovanni Paisiello wrote more than one hundred operas and in his own day was one of the most famous composers in Europe. His works, too, have largely disappeared from the repertory, although they often dwarfed the compositions of his contemporaries with their melodic charm and dramatic intensity.

But the biggest surprise remains Mojca Erdmann’s voice. In her astonishing combination of technical mastery, tonal beauty and consummate expression she affords impressive proof of what Mozart singing can be like today.

Tristan Wagner


Posted on 2011-10-03 10:08:52.887