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  • Mozart: Die Zauberflote & La Clemenza di Tito (Excerpts) - arranged for Wind Ensemble
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Mozart: Die Zauberflote & La Clemenza di Tito (Excerpts) - arranged for Wind Ensemble

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Audio CD, December 16, 2008
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When Emperor Joseph II established a professional wind ensemble drawn from the Viennese court orchestra in 1782, he initiated an influential trend that gave composers an important opportunity to popularise their operatic music. The beautifully crafte

Review

When Mozart had Don Giovanni entertained with a wind ensemble during his second-act dinner, he was simply imitating aristocratic life in 18th-century Vienna. Soon after Emperor Joseph II assumed the throne, he formed a Harmonie--in this case an ensemble consisting of pairs of oboes, clarinets, bassoons, and French horns, usually underpinned, as here, by a double bass--made up of players from the court orchestra. When they were not playing divertimentos and serenades, they would play arrangements of the hits of the day: music from the operas of composers like Paisiello, Salieri, and, of course, Mozart. Other nobles followed suit and, with ensembles of street musicians taking up the form as well, there was a sizeable market for these arrangements before long. Publishers clamored for them as soon as operas premiered, capitalizing on the desire of patrons to hear the works again at home. Composers sometimes made the arrangements themselves, trying, as Mozart apparently did with Die Entführung aus dem Serail, to beat the competition to the shops. But more often, it was other musicians who, working from the score, orchestral parts, transcriptions, or from memory, produced the arrangements within a few months of the performances.

Mozart's last two operas are presented here, transcribed by well-known arrangers of his day. Joseph Heidenreich's arrangement of Die Zauberflöte was the last in a series of popular Mozart arrangements he made during Mozart's life. Though a significant amount of cutting was obviously necessary, the most popular numbers are included and the arrangement retains the essential flow of the story. The melodies and harmonization are closely followed, though the vocal lines are generally assigned to the oboe or clarinet, even for Sarastro's arias. Joseph Triebensee, who played oboe in the orchestra that premiered Die Zauberflöte, made his arrangements, including this of La clemenza di Tito, after Mozart's death, while employed by Prince Alois von Liechtenstein. Triebensee includes music from the first act only, and Naxos includes eight of the 11 pieces transcribed. Where Heidenreich remains close to his source, Triebensee is a bit freer and more creative with his arrangement. Both composers effectively exploit the bucolic sound of the ensemble and both provide interesting challenges for the performers, testimony to the quality of those 18th-century ensembles.

In this, their first commercial release, the Saxonian Wind Academy, with players drawn from the Chemnitz Robert Schumann Philharmonic, creates an initially positive impression with a lively Zauberflöte Overture. The tone is warm, the balance is good, and the ensemble crisp. However, very soon a feeling of caution creeps in. For a listener who learned these arrangements through the lively and operatic recordings of the Amadeus Ensemble and Julius Rudel on Music Masters 6711820 (five CDs, Fanfare 23:4), these performances seem rather foursquare and poker-faced. They aren't bad, and every once in a while a particularly nice turn of a phrase or a particularly lively march makes one wonder if they aren't better than originally thought. But while the Clemenza di Tito excerpts respond reasonably well to their more restrained style, the Zauberflöte pieces too often plod along with little of the delight Rudel and his ensemble found. Still, this is the only in-print single CD source of this delightful music, if one is reluctant to invest in the Music Masters box. Those wishing to delve deeper should, in addition to Rudel's set, consider Triebensee's arrangement of Don Giovanni with the excellent Zurich Wind Octet on Tudor 779 (available used or as a download) or the Athena Ensemble, Chandos 6597. Also consider the Sabine Meyer Wind Ensemble's characterful performance of Franz Joseph Rosiniak's Die Entführung aus dem Serail arrangement on their "Wind Serenades" set, EMI 15305. -- Fanfare Archive, Ronald E. G, May/June 2009


1. Arrangement for wind ensemble of Mozart's Die Zauberflöte: Act 1. Bei Männern welche Liebe fühlen
2. Arrangement for wind ensemble of Mozart's Die Zauberflöte: Act 1. Dies Bildnis ist bezaubernd schön
3. Arrangement for wind ensemble of Mozart's Die Zauberflöte: Act 1. Zum Ziele führt dich diese Bahn
4. Arrangement for wind ensemble of Mozart's Die Zauberflöte: Act 1. Wie stark ist nicht dein Zuaberton
5. Arrangement for wind ensemble of Mozart's La Clemenza di Tito: Overture
6. Arrangement for wind ensemble of Mozart's La Clemenza di Tito: Act 1. Deh se piacer mi vuoi
7. Arrangement for wind ensemble of Mozart's La Clemenza di Tito: Act 1. Deh prendi un dolce amplesso
8. Arrangement for wind ensemble of Mozart's La Clemenza di Tito: Act 1. Marcia
9. Arrangement for wind ensemble of Mozart's La Clemenza di Tito: Act 1. Ah perdona al primo affetto
10. Arrangement for wind ensemble of Mozart's La Clemenza di Tito: Act 1. Ah, se fosse intorno al trono
11. Arrangement for wind ensemble of Mozart's La Clemenza di Tito: Act 1. Deh conservate, oh Dei

Product Details

  • Composer: Mozart
  • Audio CD (December 16, 2008)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Naxos
  • ASIN: B001JNCOB0
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #28,061 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Beautiful, beautiful rendition of some of my favorite opera tunes. Nothing like a great Wind Ensemble to give you a new perspective on things.
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