Mozart: Die Zauberflote (The Magic Flute) / Norrington, Upshaw, Hoch, Johnson, et al

Mozart: Die Zauberflote (The Magic Flute) / Norrington, Upshaw, Hoch, Johnson, et al

Perfect in structure, balance, and compositional technique, this operatic masterpiece is surely one of the most awe-inspiring miracles in the history of human creativity. How could Mozart, in the last year of his tragically short life, beset by ill health and poverty, write such blissful, heavenly music? It embraces the heights and depths of human feeling, from profoundly moving to joyously carefree and serenely sublime. This recording, based on scrupulous research, attempts to recreate the style of the original performances: a very fine period-instrument orchestra, normally tuned, produces transparency and balance; the winds, especially the solo flute, have a more characteristic sound than the strings (as well as less reliable intonation). Brisk tempi create swift forward movement, but also some emotional superficiality. Outstanding among the singers are Andreas Schmidt for his beautiful voice, elegant musicianship, and natural characterization, and Beverly Hoch for her impeccable coloratura. Diction is generally good, but it is easy to distinguish the German from the non-German speakers, especially in the spoken dialogue, which it is in any case advisable to skip. <i>--Edith Eisler</i>