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Thursday, October 11, 2012

Mozart, La Finta Giardiniera, René Jacobs and Freiburger Barockorchester

Never underestimate Mozart juvenilia. Take the full-blown opera La Finta Giardiniera, written in his teens. I found a version of excerpts at a thrift store years ago. To begin with, it was a budget disk in all the bad senses. Undistinguished cast with undistinguished orchestra in an undistinguished recording. In a word, it was crummy. I listen dutifully. My impression was that the opera was...pretty crummy. For years I listened now and again, but couldn't shake the impression that it wasn't up to snuff.

René Jacobs and Freiburger Barockorchester have released a full version (Harmonia Mundi) that I have had the pleasure of hearing several times. What a difference! It's given the full period treatment, right down to an early pianoforte for the recitatives and a harpsichord for the arias and other numbers.

This is music that is fully worth our attention. It may not have the profound depths of Don Giovanni, but few operas do. It is fully charming, fully Italianate, a little like listening to early Rossini.

The cast and orchestra do a worthy job of it from start to finish. This is a version that will make you take the opera seriously. It is like finding a lost Mozart work! All Mozart opera buffs will love it, I expect. It is a joy to hear.

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