The Gramophone, December, 1925
slurs and scoops. Pity 'tis that a fine voice should not be better used. Don Giovanni's aria in praise of wine, which follows, is quite another affair. It chiefly needs voice, and of that i t receives enough and to spare from the ever-generous Titta Ruffo in Fin ch'an del vino (H.M.V., D.A.357). It is delivered, moreover, with immense brio, or what we term" go."
After this comes the irresistible Batti, batti, in which Zerlina wheedles Masetto, her clownish peasant lover, until he forgives her for her flirtation with the amorous Don. Once upon a t ime the perfect model for realizing the fascination of this delicious air was the incomparable Adelina Patti, who included i t among the group of records which she made at Craig-y-Nos Castle not many years before her death. Alas, these efforts came too late to afford more than a pale reflection of the diva's marvellous voice and faultlessly pure Mozart style; yet there is a something that she alone could have given us in the specimen that survives (H.M.V., 03055), and for her sake I for one shall always treasure i t with all i ts faults. (By the way, i t is sung much too fast and the piano accompaniment is a mere scramble, while the once glorious P atti tone is only present in miniature.) In the same piece you may also listen to Marcella Sembrich (H.M.V., D.B.42S), Luisa Tetrazzini (H.M.V., D.B.537), Frieda Hempel (Polydor T.24006), and Elisabeth Schumann (Polydor 65655); this last only sung in German. I like them best in the order in which I have here written them down. Bar a misplaced high note at the end, the style of the Sembrich record is irreproachable; but, oddly enough, the German sopranos, despite their more recent recording, do not achieve the true Mozart reading of Batti, batti.
Nothing from the wonderful ball-room scenenot even the tuneful minuet that everybody u sed to hum; not a sign of the trio ~f maskers, so horribly difficult to keep perfectly m tune; and, of course, not a bar from the immortal finale to the first act. The second is ma,inly represented by the piquant serenade with the pizzicato string accompaniment which Don Giovanni (impersonating Leporello) sings beneath Donna Elvira's window. Several eminent baritones have, of course, done this for the H.M.V.-for example, Maurice Renaud (D.851), Antonio Scotti (D.B.668), Emilio Gogorza (D.B.lS4), and Titta Ruffo (D.A.357). Of these I like best the Gogorza, not only for i ts vocal qualities, but because the tempo .a~d gen~ral interpretation are in accord with traditlOn. Bemg too short to fill the whole side, each artist provides the requisite full measure with a l i t t le extra contribut ion' thus Renaud repeats the last verse in Italian; Scotti adds the Quand'ero paggio from Falstaff; Gogorza appropriately giveS' the serenade from Berlioz's Faust; and Titta Ruffo-but no, I am wrong, Ruffo adds nothing; he takes the whole thing so slowly, makes so many pauses, that he adds naught save a long high note to finish with, and so completes his ad captand~tm version.
Of Zerlina's second air, Vedrai ca'rino, I have two capital records, the better of which is by Lucrezia Bori (H.M.V.,D.A.130), a charming singer with a neat and pretty style that just fits the piece. The other, by Elisabeth Schumann (Polydor 65655), is in the German translation, Wenn du f ein fromm bist, certain sentences of which remind one rather of a clucking hen. But apart from the consequent lack of suavity there is little fault to find, the tone being clear and musical, the words well enunciated, and the recording excellent. There remains only to speak of Don Ottavio's great air, n mio tesoro, as rendered by John McCormack (H.M.V., D.B.324) and Herman Jadlowker (Polydor 72538, see above). The former is worthy of the Irish tenor in the purity and smoothness of i ts phrasing and sostenuto, in the admirable control that enables him to execute the extended run in a single breath, and i ts textual accuracy throughout. Personally, I prefer in this air a more heroic manner and a dark tone, rather than a voix blanche, but that shall be my sole criticism of an extremely artistic record. Anyhow, I prefer i t to the robust i l lustration given by the German tenor, who ha,s no idea of contrast, and is heavy and tremulous, with his Triinen vom Freund getrocknet, where he should be light and graceful and steady. No; decidedly these masterpieces sound best in the Italian to which Mozart wrote them. HER~1AN KLEIN.
December 7th, 1791. Mozart died.
" I wish eamestly that I could impress on all friends of music . . . the same depth of sympathy and appreciation as I hav e regarding the inimitable works of Jv!OZ(wt; that I might make othen fe el and enjoy them equally. "-HAYDN. (FRmI Thoughts on: Mus'ic, A- CALENDAR~SELECTED
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