René Jacobs / Freiburger Barockorchester

Mozart: La finta giardiniera

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Mozart wrote the comic opera La finta giardiniera (The Pretend Girl Gardener) in 1775, when he was 18, in Munich, Germany. Since then it has had a tortured history: it failed after three performances, was rewritten by Mozart as a German singspiel called Die verstellte Gärtnerin, and finally resurfaced in Prague in 1796, five years after Mozart's death, in a version with up-to-date orchestration that included clarinets and what conductor René Jacobs terms "emancipated" wind parts in general. This version is so artfully done that some have speculated Mozart himself had a hand in it, and, with a few further tweaks, it receives its premiere recording here. Jacobs in his cycle of Mozart's operas with the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra has favored brisk tempos and unsentimental string phrasing. These may be the bugaboos of Baroque specialists who venture into Classical repertory, but there's much to like here. Whoever wrote the 1796 version, it makes dramatic (and comic) sense, and it gives soprano Sophie Kärthauser, as the disguised gardener Sandrina (actually the Marquise Violante Onesti) room to stretch out into the role's comic possibilities. She's a real actress, and combined with the variegated scoring in this version the ways in which this little opera points the way to The Marriage of Figaro, with its crossing of class lines, become clear. The opera is light, it's a lot of fun, and it has something of the melodic abundance of the early full-scale piano concertos and the other larger instrumental works Mozart composed around this time. This is a bold move on Jacobs' part, and one that works.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
La Finta Giardiniera
1 4:22
2 5:05
3 1:56
4 3:59
5 2:19
6 5:04
7 3:12
8 3:37
9 1:05
10 3:18
11 1:45
12 2:59
13 3:31
14 3:48
15 2:24
16 3:55
17 1:02
18 2:18
19 1:17
20 3:19
21 4:59
22 2:01
23 3:23
24 2:52
25 3:28
26 3:01

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
La Finta Giardiniera
1 3:24
2 3:50
3 2:47
4 3:01
5 3:16
6 5:31
7 1:45
8 5:43
9 1:46
10 2:58
11 0:48
12 4:40
13 4:02
14 5:31
15 2:10
16 3:38
17 3:32
18 2:41
19 3:50
20 3:49
21 5:54
blue highlight denotes track pick