Currentzis - Don Giovanni

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Currentzis - Don Giovanni

Well, the final installment of the Currentzis Mozart/Da Ponte trilogy is finally here. It was supposed to be out a while back, but Currentzis apparently wasn't happy with the recording, so he somehow got Sony to finance a complete re-recording. 

The result is astounding. I really enjoyed the previous two releases, especially Figaro, but this is something really special. After all this time, you really wouldn't think there was anything new to be said about Don Giovanni, but there is: Currentzis says it. Broadly period-authentic in style - briskly paced, crisp, bristling attacks - it is also unlike anyone else's take on the great opera. It isn't weird or eccentric; everything feels just right. What separates it from the crowd is the depth of attention which is applied to every detail, the profoundly imaginative shaping of each and every phrase, and the extraordinary, razor-sharp precision of the ensemble playing. The stuff, in other words, that everyone else would like to do, but doesn't know how. The singing, in accordance with Currentzis's beliefs - and others in the HIPP world - is a touch "lighter" than usual: less "operatic", more "natural", if there is such a thing. All the roles are superbly sung (including a best-ever Don Ottavio) and the recording is rich, warm and finely detailed.

If you don't know Don Giovanni well or don't even like opera very much, it is certainly a good place to start. If you do know Don Giovanni, however, it is just a delight from start to finish. Everything you want to hear is there, along with so much more: rhythms you hadn't noticed before; melodic lines that you didn't even know where there. Currentzis seems to find more wit and more drama than anyone else - but without losing sight of the overarching dramatic trajectory of the piece; without clogging it up with manneristic clutter. The propulsive drama always moves forward. 

Highly recommended, anyway.

Bon courage...this storm will pass.

Well, it is always a good thing for anyone of us here to see your sheer enthusiasm for something new and promising such as this Currentzis thing.

I can recall your thrilling comments on his "Nozze" in a previous thread and I can understand your position on his "achievements". However, it does not seem to be the case everywhere and for all of us. You have to see only the relevant review in our esteemed publication, where, among other things, the reviewer calls the wunderkind's latest accomplishment as "an extra dash of dissapointment into the mix", "the conductor's strange attitude towards authenticity", "uneven achievement", "unconvincing interpretative ideas" and "not a Don Giovanni to live with". Of course, it is only a review. The man might be all the way wrong, but the question that counts is: Does this new approach of Mr. Currentzis provide the truth of the matter as for this pivotal work or just his own view(s) and ideas. It seems to me that the latter is the case. It might work to some maybe younger listeners, not that familiar with classic interpretations and recordings, but he cannot convince those who have been exposed to numerous older but very solid, sometimes legendary, performances and recordings.

Personally, I found his interpretations fit to be compared only to those of period instruments recordings, such as Ostman, Gardiner or Jacobs. I found that, in details and specific parts all of them have interesting and precious aspects to offer, including, by all means, Currentzis. Incidentally, Kenneth Tarver sings Ottavio in Jacobs too.

As for the more classic recordings and interpretations, there is no point of comparison or even claiming the truth. We speak of quite different animals in every aspect: big(ger) classic orchestras and chorus, seasoned well-established Operatic singers with big beautiful voices, attention to the essence (not the selected details) of the score, the build-up of the drama as it unfolds and, most importantly, the inextricable link of music and text in a way that the former transcends the latter. Incidentally, Mr. Currentzis claimed that "Cosi fan tutte" is about "revolution in the sphere of love", but none of the characters is very smart, the libretto is "grotesque" and the story "silly". So, how can a man of music serve convincingly and profoundly this sublime work?

My feeling so far from the recordings of Mr. Currentzis on Mozart's crowning masterpieces is that the man does not lack in ego, he seems absolutely sure of his views and he pursues them to the letter, in a way that, even by abusing the score or the overall scope of the work, he can get away with it. Apparently, he has done it already, to a considerable degree, since he has been entrusted (by Sony) with such a significant project and a certain level of good sales proves that there is a sort of public able to embrace his thought-provoking approach. Let's see what will be his next major "project".

Parla

parla wrote:He cannot

parla wrote:

He cannot convince those who have been exposed to numerous older but very solid, sometimes legendary, performances and recordings.......

Classic Parla!

You do come quite close to

You do come quite close to making a decent point, however: it does indeed remain to be seen how this Currentzis settles down and finds its place among the other great recordings. Early days, of course. In the long run, it may well prove to be lacking in some regard. But at the moment, I am utterly thrilled by it and think many others will be.

(I remain a great fan of the Giulini/Philharmonia set...........with the exception of Schwartzkopf, whose voice is just too strident for the part.)

Don't get me wrong, Jane.

Don't get me wrong, Jane. Currentzis is a "phenomenon" to reckon with. He seems to me and some more older people to be a sort of difficult to digest maverick. He has talents, strong convictions to the extent to go as far as even "abusing" a score (and that in the name of a sort of quest for the Holy Grail) and a narcissistic self-confidence that He will reveal the truth...His endeavours so far have convinced me that he does not (yet) have the ingenuity of the young Harnoncourt or the authority of a Boulez, based on his recordings so far.

He seems to move between some very Classic (and pre-Classic) as well as modern repertory. Two recordings on Shostakovich (an almost dreadful 14th Symphony, on Alpha, and an exciting, albeit always a bit bizarre, account of the Piano Concertos with Melnikov, on HM), two on Stravinsky (an intriguing quite Russian "Les Noces" and a folksy -in the name of truth- "Le Sacre", both on Sony), one on Rameau ( a decent selection of the composers dances, arias etc., on Sony), one on Purcell (a take it or leave it Dido and Aeneas, on Alpha) and one on Mozart (apart from the controversial Daponte trilogy): another very strange Requiem (on Alpha).

Apparently, he has already his fans, a number of critics and reviewers who can support or...tolerate his idiosyncratic skills and undeniable but controversial talent(s) as well as some considerable institutions to promote him, let alone his solid relationship with...Putin himself (allegedly).

Time will tell whether he will give way to some more universal aspects of truth and soften his strong convictions, so that to develop himself into a mature conductor of Authority, or he will become a good advocate of the inspiring bizarreries of Classical Music. We'll see...

Parla

P.S.: I'm very happy you are a fan of Giulini's Don Giovanni. It is one of the classic and legendary recordings, almost the sort of reference one can live with.

third rate

I'll be blunt... Third rate conducting, third rate singers! This don giovanni is just boring. Nowadays artists are hungry only for fame and they want to perform and make recordings, even though they have nothing to present to the public. 

 

The baritone singing Don Giovanni should be at least a good singer and by good I mean seasoned! Who is this baritone that interprets don giovanni in this recording? Ok, he has a nice, serene voice... it will make us sleep... like so many other boring singers... does he have to make a recording?

 

My view is that the studios are in a desperate need of new material, they don't have it and they use whatever useless conductor, baritone etc...

tobias tobias wrote:

tobias tobias wrote:

I'll be blunt... Third rate conducting, third rate singers! This don giovanni is just boring.

Ok. Perhaps you could give some examples of "first rate" singers and a non "boring" Don Giovanni etc.  

janeeliotgardiner wrote:

janeeliotgardiner wrote:

 

tobias tobias wrote:

 

I'll be blunt... Third rate conducting, third rate singers! This don giovanni is just boring.

 

Ok. Perhaps you could give some examples of "first rate" singers and a non "boring" Don Giovanni etc.  

 

 

 

I think you have taken a Brodsky-style bait Jane.  

 

(Having listened to the first act only, I too found it a delightful, refreshing offering.)

VicJayL wrote: I think you

VicJayL wrote:

I think you have taken a Brodsky-style bait Jane.  

Yes, the thought did cross my mind. But who knows? They might come back with a sensible response..........If not, nothing much has been lost. 

Good to see you are still about, anyway, keeping watch on us all from your Linn-congested lair.

Some great Don Giovanni singers.

Although I sense this newcomer might be a Brodsky-style poster, he has a point as for the quality of singers in this new Don Giovanni, particularly for the title role.

Dimitris Tiliakos is a good baritone, mostly specialised in Verdian roles (and not that well appreciated...yet). However, the role of Don Giovanni was considered as best performed by Bass-baritones (maybe mostly in the past) with a view to giving this extra weight in the various and more serious aspects of the role. Some great, always memorable and mentioned as Don Giovanni singers with authority were, in the old days, Ezio Pinza and Cesare Siepi. George London, although a bit heavy as a predominantly Wagnerian singer, was a superb Don Giovanni too. Later, Nicolai Ghiaurov and Ruggero Raimondi created some other but always authoritative picture of Don Giovanni. More recently, Gerald Finley, Bryn Terfel and Ildebrando D' Arcangelo have been quite convincing and stylish in the title role.

From the Baritone voices, Eberhard Wachter, Thomas Allen, Bernd Weikl and Simon Keenlyside have served the role with strong conviction and authority.

Next, Dona Anna perhaps?

Parla

parla wrote:

parla wrote:

Although I sense this newcomer might be a Brodsky-style poster, he has a point as for the quality of singers in this new Don Giovanni, particularly for the title role.........

You seem to have listed everyone apart from the one in this Currentzis recording! (And quite a mixed bunch, by the way...........)

Perhaps you need to live with the recording a bit longer, Parla. As you usually take delivery of 120 CDs per month, it can't be easy finding enough time to really appreciate a single work - especially when your tastes are somewhat wedded to the virtues of the "golden era". Give it more time and a few more listens before forming such a firm judgement.

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