MOZART: Sacred Arias – Sandrine Piau, soprano (2003)

by | Aug 10, 2006 | DVD & Blu-ray Video Reviews | 0 comments

MOZART: Sacred Arias – Sandrine Piau, soprano (2003)

With Les Talens Lyriques conducted by Christophe Rousset
Taped at Le Festival de Saint-Denis
Studio: Armide Classics ARM009 (distr. Harmonia Mundi)
Video: Fullscreen color
Audio:  DTS 5.0, PCM Stereo
No region code
Extras: Interviews with Sandrine Piau & Christophe Rousset
Length: 110 minutes
Rating: ***

This totally charming Mozart program, filmed during a concert at the 37th running of the Saint-Denis Festival in June, 2003, features one of the world’s great Mozartian sopranos in a program that combines both well-known and unfamiliar gems.

Recorded in the Basilica of Saint-Denis, a 12th century Gothic masterpiece, the direction is conservative and, surprisingly, makes little use of the historic surroundings, but throughout Piau is magnificent. She is helped by conductor Rousset who rolls out the orchestra before her like a plush red carpet, providing the right introduction for her to hypnotically wield her transparent, alluring voice with its purity of line and phrasing, never forced and able to range from the delicate and intimate to the gloriously soaring. Whether it’s the celestial “Et incarnatus est” from the unfinished Mass in C minor, or the wonderful aria (“Ruhe sanft”) from Mozart’s early Singspiel, Zaïde, here is Mozartian singing of rare quality and beauty. There is even a discovery to be made by experienced Mozartians, a lovely aria from his oratorio concoction, Davidde Penitente.

Scattered among the vocal numbers like petals of a gracious flower, Rousset’s talented original-instrument band plays the Andante K. 315 for flute and orchestra and the Sinfonia Concertante K. 297b for four wind soloists. The performances are charming, eminently stylish and expertly played. The sound is reasonably sumptuously yet detailed, with just enough ambience to allow the side speakers to impart their extra bloom. The program book includes complete texts of the arias, with translations. The DVD includes interviews with Piau and Rousset.

 – Lawrence Vittes

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