Mozart: Le Nozze di Figaro - Berry, Grist, Watson, Mathis, Wixell, Kelemen; Böhm. Salzburg, 1966
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This recording of Le Nozze di Figaro has both the bubbling energy that makes for thrilling ensembles, as well as star singers who bring all the intelligence, vocal control and purity of tone that one expects of great Mozartians. In other words, it has it all! Walter Berry presents a superb combination of both the earthy and noble qualities of Figaro. Despite being no stranger to Wagner and Strauss, he manages to scale back his large voice, embracing a conversational quality to his vocalism. Reri Grist is a firecracker Susanna who exudes charm and vocal warmth from her entrance, and throughout the many scenes that include her. Claire Watson is heard to great effect as the Countess, leaving me wondering if there was anything that this remarkable artist could not sing. Edith Mathis, herself a great Susanna, takes a turn as Cherubino, delivering a voluptuous yet pure sound. Ingvar Wixell offers a ringing Count. Additional kudos must go to Margarethe Bence’s booming Marcellina and Zoltan Kelemen’s conniving Bartolo. Karl Böhm opts for brisker tempos than his studio recording made in the 70s which helps to keep the action taught without making it seem frenzied. The sound is very good.