Ian Page and Classical Opera’s “Mozart 250” is an ambitious 30-year project to record all Mozart’s major works and many of those of his contemporaries. We’re already three years and several fine recordings into the project, so it’s easy to forget that Mozart is still only 12 years old. If you’re still marvelling at that you’re not alone. Mozart’s Grabmusik (literally “Grave Music”) may have been the product of a similar reaction from the composer’s contemporaries. Locked in a room with manuscript paper by a suspicion patron, the young boy may well have produced this precocious work.
A dialogue between a tormented soul and a consoling angel, the cantata has a stature the charming but disposable pastoral Bastien und Bastienne lacks. Melodies are expansive and expressive – the querulous, blustering soul (a wonderfully earthy Jacques Imbrailo) is neatly contrasted with the blanched purity of the angel, whose music soars loftily above. It’s a role that suits soprano Anna Lucia Richter less well than the pouting Bastienne, where her light voice can warm into a little more character.
Bastien und Bastienne sees Richter joined by tenor Alessandro Fisher (blankly ardent as Bastien, an all-aesthetics-and-no-sheep, Toile de Jouy shepherd) and Darren Jeffery as magician Colas. The spoken dialogue rather breaks up the musical flow, but the energy and idiomatic flair of Page and The Mozartists lends weight and quality to this feather-light piece of musical flummery.
Composition: Bastien und Bastienne
Performer: Classical Opera/Ian Page
Catalogue Number: Signum SIGCD547