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  • Other Mozart: Arias By Franz Xavier Mozart
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Other Mozart: Arias By Franz Xavier Mozart

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Audio CD, November 8, 2005
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In this year of Mozart celebrations, it's tempting to explore the Mozart legacy, and Barbara Bonney has discovered what she likens to "a new species or a new island in the Pacific": 27 songs by Mozart's youngest son, born five months before his father's death. Though she admits that their importance is mostly "musicological," she loves them--hence this recording. Franz Xavier Mozart, not surprisingly, had musical talent, but it was his mother's astute business sense and determination to cash in on her husband's fame that fuelled his career as pianist and composer; she even added "Wolfgang" to his name. To this reportedly shy, charming young man, the twin burden of her driving ambition and his father's looming shadow must have been well-nigh intolerable. Listening to these songs, one can hardly escape the conclusion that if the composer's name were not Mozart, nobody would have troubled to unearth or perform them. They are pleasant and simple; the melodies are often lovely, but the harmonies are undistinguished, without interesting modulations, and the accompaniments are trite, consisting mainly of broken chords. Young Mozart seems to have shared his father's predilection for choosing terrible poetry, but lacked his gift fur turning literary dross into musical gold. However, he learned as he went along. Composed between 1808 and 1829, the later songs are noticeably superior to the earlier ones, and a few contain enough variety to sound like operatic scenes. But it is the piano introductions and postludes that are most successful; in Malcolm Martineau's rivetingly beautiful, sensitive performance, they establish mood and atmosphere, surrounding the songs with a magical expressive glow like a halo. Bonney's affection for the songs is beyond doubt. Unfortunately, her voice is not at its best: it sounds shrill and forced, but improves toward the end. --Edith Eisler

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (November 8, 2005)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Decca
  • ASIN: B000BGH0HY
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #20,945 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Bjorn Viberg on November 14, 2011
Format: Audio CD
The Other Mozart: Songs by Franz Xaver Mozart is a 2005 Decca Music Group recording starring Barbara Bonney. Ms Bonney here sings the songs of Mozart's son Frans Xaver Mozart. Mary Jo Heath has written the music notes. All the lyrics are also included. Ms Bonney has also written a foreword. Also included are many photographs of Ms Bonney from the time of the recording. Whilst nowhere as talented as his father, one can not deny that Frans Xaver Mozart had talent. His songs are quite nice to listen to. Recommended. 4/5.
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6 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Ingrid Heyn on June 25, 2006
Format: Audio CD
These songs by Mozart's son Franz X. are pleasant. There are many who can compose pleasant songs, and whose songs have not been recorded. There's no doubt these songs would have remained unrecorded were it not for the lustre of F.X.'s father.

That said, this is certainly an unusual disc. The repertoire's rarity would have made it of interest no matter what, even if the songs themselves do not reach a level higher than "quite charming".

Barbara Bonney as the singer could have been ideal. Sadly, it seems that Ms Bonney's voice has at last reached a point of no return. While the top remains beautiful and gleaming, the middle - particularly around A and B - has become unfocused, fuzzy, somehow lacking purity, lacking tone... It's hard to describe, but that pearl-like gleam is gone, and I'm terribly afraid it's probably gone for ever.

Perhaps Ms Bonney's future recordings will avoid anything lower than C (C an octave above middle C, that is), but it's hard to imagine anything not incorporating that particular area of the voice. But what a tragedy! Barbara Bonney is rightly famous for her lovely voice and beautiful interpretations, her excellent diction and warm sympathy of manner in her singing. Simply put, her voice was one of the glories of the world.

This recording will only appeal to those who enjoy curiosities of music and who remain dedicated to the beauty of Barbara Bonney's voice that was.
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