REVIEW POTPOURRI: Composer Wolfgang Mozart Conductor Cesar Franck Author John Sandford

Mozart: Abduction from the Seraglio – Ferenc Fricsay conducting the RIAS Orchestra and Chorus, various soloists; Audite 23 413, 2 CDs, recorded 1949.

Mozart’s most well known operas are Don Giovanni, The Magic Flute, Marriage of Figaro, and Cosi Fan Tutte, while the Abduction has

Wolfgang Mozart

Wolfgang Mozart

occupied a more minor position. To me, it could easily replace Don Giovanni, which I feel is long-winded and overrated. In fact, every aria and chorus in the whole opera has melodic appeal of a most engaging quality which the others, as great as they are, simply don’t sustain.

The plot centers on a seraglio or Turkish harem and  focusses on the rescue of one of three women who have been sold to a Sultan by pirates. But the tone of the opera is one of comedy and joy.

The performance is excellent on all levels- singing, playing, conducting, characterization, etc. And the 1949 performance, originally intended for broadcast on German radio, has been remastered for cd with the utmost clarity and presence. One could easily mistake it for a more recent recording. It is also still in print and reasonably priced through such Internet sites as the  Amazon vendors and the Berkshire Record Outlet.

One monarch once criticized the opera to Mozart as having too many notes; the composer replied, “It has as many notes as it needs.”

Franck: Redemption – Michel Plasson conducting Orchestre du Capitole de Toulouse with chorus and soloists; Musical Heritage Society S 160605, CD, recorded 1994.

Cesar Franck

Cesar Franck

This is one of the most beautiful pieces of music ever written. Scored for narrator, soloist, chorus and orchestra, it has the characteristics of a mass or oratorio of a devotional quality, similar to Verdi’s Requiem Mass, Beethoven Missa Solemnis and the Mozart Requiem, The composer Cesar Franck (1822-1890), after completing it in 1871, considered the work a tone poem, which is for orchestra, as is a symphony, but has the other label instead. The recording of the full score is the first one, unlike recordings of the opening Prelude which were the norm previously. It is also top-notch and still very much available.

Franck’s fame was  based on his gifts as an organist and he was the lead one at Saint Clotilde Church in Paris for at least 3 decades. His father recognized his musical gifts when  Franck was a boy but proved to be such an arrogant,  domineering jackass  even throughout his young adulthood that, when he was courting his future wife, her parents saw the situation with Papa and offered to let him stay with them; the reason being that they really liked him but understandably wanted to keep an eye on him and their daughter.

A suspense novel.

John Sandford: – Deadline; G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2014, 388 pages.

John Sandford

John Sandford

I have covered one or two thrillers by John Sandford that were centered around the uncannily brilliant Minneapolis/Saint Paul investigator Lucas Davenport the protagonist of the more than 25 novels of the Prey series. Deadline features Davenport’s colleague Virgil Flowers, who covers the upcountry Minnesota lakeside/sticks region. I have read one or two of the previous Flowers novels but didn’t find them   hanging around in my memory.

This title is different and significantly more exciting – I gulped it in three days! There are basically three different situations Flowers is confronting, a series of mysterious dognappings, a neighborhood meth lab and a very murderous local schoolboard stealing millions over a period of years. The crimes and perpetrators do overlap, mostly unwittingly, with the schoolboard providing the most narrative interest.

But enough of the hints. A must read!


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