Artistic director of Russia’s Perm State Opera, Greek-born conductor Teodor Currentzis and his relentlessly drilled HIP orchestra Musica Aeterna have been attracting encomia and outrage in equal measure for their thrilling, uncompromising and often eccentric accounts of works by composers from Purcell to Stravinsky and Shostakovich.
This recording of Mozart’s Don Giovanni – apparently released a year later than planned because Currentzis was unhappy and insisted on doing it all over again – completes the firebrand’s survey of the composer’s three operas to libretti by Lorenzo Da Ponte.
Like his Nozze di Figaro and Così Fan Tutte, Currentzis’ take on the Don grips you from the terrifying overture and sweeps you along to the terrible denouement. Again, the precision of the orchestral playing, often at breakneck speed, defies belief. Currentzis sees Don Giovanni as inhabiting a very specific soundworld combining “the coldness of the Salzburg church music tradition” with “a Mediterranean Baroque sound.”
Thus Don Giovanni (Dimitris Tiliakos) strikes one as more pitiable than ever; Leporello (Vito Priante) despite his servitude, more admirable, while Karina Gauvin’s Donna Elvira is the very embodiment of a woman scorned. Mika Kares (Il Commendatore), Myrtò Papatanasiu (Donna Anna), Kenneth Tarver (Don Ottavio), Christina Gansch (Zerlina) and Guido Loconsolo (Masetto) are also uniformly excellent.