Grabmusik / Bastien und Bastienne

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 “It only remains to add that Ian Page and his crack team – singers and players – are clearly having a lot of fun, which comes across in this excellent recording. It’s a treat to experience these faint anticipations of greatness in such winning performances.” GRAMOPHONE MAGAZINE

The latest release in our highly acclaimed recording cycle of all Mozart’s operas shines a light on two of his earliest works.

Grabmusik is thought to be the product of a test set by the Prince-Archbishop of Salzburg, who, “not crediting that such masterly compositions were really those of a child, shut him up for a week, during which he was not permitted to see any one, and was left only with music paper, and the words of an oratorio… During this short time he composed a very capital oratorio, which was most highly approved of upon being performed.” The title can be translated as ‘Cantata on Christ’s Grave’ (literally ‘Grave Music’), and the anonymous text takes the form of a dialogue between a tormented soul, who is desperately lamenting the tragedy of Christ’s death, and an angel. The work was probably premièred in Holy Week 1767.

Bastien und Bastienne is the only one of Mozart’s operas to have been written for performance in a private house rather than a theatre. Commissioned at some point in mid-1768 by the renowned and controversial physician Franz Anton Mesmer, it tells the tale of two young shepherds being reconciled in love by the fortune teller and magician Colas (a character who has various similarities with Mesmer himself). This new recording uses Mozart’s original 1768 setting of the libretto by F. W. Weiskern & J. H. F. Müller, the provenance of which was only recently established following the rediscovery of Mozart’s autograph manuscript.

Translations of the libretto into French, English and Italian alongside the original German can be read here.

“Page’s Classical Opera project goes from strength to strength. The playing in this early Singspiel fizzes with life, the singing is splendid and the work, childlike yet expert, charms.” THE SUNDAY TIMES

“The series of Mozart opera being recorded under the direction of Classical Opera’s director Ian Page has already established him as one of the most stylishly authoritative interpreters of the composer working today.”