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Leinsdorf: Mozart – Don Giovanni (3 CD, APE)

Leinsdorf: Mozart - Don Giovanni (3 CD, APE)
Leinsdorf: Mozart - Don Giovanni (3 CD, APE)

Audio CD
Number of Discs: 3
Format: APE (tracks+cue)
Label: Decca
Size: 878 MB
Recovery: +3%
Scan: yes

Don Giovanni – Cesare Siepi
Donna Anna – Birgit Nilsson
Donna Elvira – Leontyne Price
Don Ottavio – Cesare Valletti
Leporello – Fernando Corena
Zerlina – Eugenia Ratti
Masetto – Heinz Blankenburg
Il Commendatore – Arnold van Mill

Wiener Staatsopernchor
Wiener Philharmoniker
Erich Leinsdorf

CD 1
01. Ouvertura
02. Act One – Scene 1 – Notte e giorno faticar
03. Ma qual mai s’offre, o dei
04. Scene 2 – Orsu, spicciati presto
05. Ah! chi mi dice mai
06. Madamina, il catalogo è questo
07. Giovinette che fate all’amore
08. Manco male, è partita
09. Ho capito, signor, sì!
10. Alfin siam liberati
11. Là ci darem la mano
12. Ah! fuggi il traditor!

CD 2
01. Act One – Scene 2 cont’d – Mi par ch’oggi il demonio si diverta
02. Non ti fidar, o miseria
03. Don Ottavio, son morta!
04. Or sai chi l’onore
05. Dalla sua pace
06. Io deggio ad ogni patto
07. Finch’han dal vino
08. Scene 3 – Masetto, senti un po’!
09. Batti, batti, o bel Masetto
10. (Presto, presto, pria ch’ei vanga…)
11. Bisogna aver coraggio
12. Scene 4 – Riposate, vezzose ragazze!
13. Act Two – Scene 1 – Eh via, buffone
14. Ah! taci, ingiusto core
15. Deh, vieni alla finestra
16. Metà di voi qua vadano
17. Vedrai, carino

CD 3
01. Act Two – Scene 2 – Di molte faci il lume
02. Sola, sola in buio loco
03. Ah, pietà, signori miei!
04. Il mio tesoro intanto
05. In quali eccessi, o numi…Mi tradi
06. Scene 3 – Ah, ah, ah, ah! questa è buona!
07. O statua gentilissima
08. Scene 4 – Calmatevi, idol mio!
09. Non mi dir
10. Già la mensa è preparata
11. Don Giovanni, a cenar teco
12. Ah, dov’è il perfido?

A Belter

The perfect Don Giovanni exists in the mind of God. East of Eden, we endure “mere glimmerings and decays.” I agree with the chorus: immaculate it ain’t but Leinsdorf’s performance of K 527 from `60 is a hoot.

Much like Ormandy, the Austrian conductor serves as archery practice on Amazon. I cannot answer for his wider accomplishments. I greatly enjoyed his survey of Mozart’s symphonies. Here, he’s in fine form yet again.

To a cardinal point: the stereo recording is sensational. It was overseen by Ray Minshull who also produced Kertesz’s Dvorak cycle. Its spaciousness and depth are phenomenal. When the Chorus of Devils makes an appearance – and how – it’s bewitching. Sound-effects have been tastefully added (for instance, a bell chimes away in the Graveyard Scene). Balance is excellent. The Vienna Philharmonic burns down the house. Its cello line is so evident.

Whatever one might make of this soloist or that, a narrative is being told and masterfully so. One gives a damn about their fate. The quick-fire recitatives, particularly those between Leporello and his master, are enthralling. How the Don stares down Eternity in the Supper Scene! What a ride to Hell! And the rarely heard duet “Per queste tue manine” (K 540c) is included too.

There are three trumps in the cast: Cesare Siepi (arguably the greatest Don of the mid Twentieth Century), Cesare Valletti (has “O Mio Tesoro” ever been sung with such ease and beauty of tone – and more widely, he matches, in his own way, the Don’s mojo) and Leontyne Price (roll over Aunty Lizzy – this is the Donna Elvira of dreams – what a Rolls Royce of a voice!). That leaves the rest of the cast. Fernando Corena is solid as Leporello and handles the buffo elements with aplomb. Eugenia Ratti is girly enough as Zerlina but somewhat of a squawker. Heinz Blankenburg as Masetto and Arnold van Mill as the Commendatore are serviceable in their respective roles. Birgit Nilsson in Mozart could be likened to a Bugatti Veyron that is being driven tamely at the speed-limit. Perhaps lyricism and lightness – so important in this domain – are not fully there but her characterisation is not in doubt: this dame ain’t happy. And the voice is never less than captivating.

When Tchaikovsky viewed the manuscript of Don Giovanni, he felt the presence of divinity. This affords a similar experience. And what fun it is! Hesitate not!

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