OP0123. MOSES UND AARON (Schönberg), w. Solti Cond. Chicago S.O. & Chorus; Franz Mazura, Philip Langridge, Aage Haugland, Barbara Bonney, etc. 2-London 414 264, recorded 1984, w.Elaborate 133pp. Libretto-brochure, Slipcase Set. Long out-of-print, Final Copy! - 028941426420
“The performers on this recording, whom Georg Solti instructed, ‘Please play and sing as if you were performing Brahms!’ clearly took his directions to heart. This performance is characterized by the kind of passion, and occasional frenzy, Schönberg had in mind - in this incarnation, the opera could never be taken as an academic exercise in serialism. A large part of the credit goes to Solti, who discovers the dramatic contours within the musical phrases and delivers a shapely and nuanced reading. The opera's punch is heightened by the composer's brilliantly colorful and evocative orchestration, which creates a drama of its own, and the Chicago Symphony plays with considerable heat without sacrificing precision. Whether or not Schönberg's harmonic language is to a listener's personal taste, it would be hard not to get caught up in the visceral energy of the performance. The chorus is really the star of the opera, and the Chicago Symphony Chorus, directed by the legendary Margaret Hillis, sings the grueling music with the apparent ease and naturalness one would expect in a performance of a tonal piece. In the dramatically challenging role of Moses, Franz Mazura delivers the Sprechstimme lines with real authority and power. Tenor Philip Langridge's voice is not always tonally beautiful - the upper register can sound strained - but he sings with passion and understanding, and his Aron is a strong dramatic foil to Mazura's stern Moses. Soprano Barbara Bonney and bass Aage Haugland bring a sheen of bel canto polish to their relatively small roles. Decca's sound, in this reissue of a 1984 release, is warm and dramatically realistic.”
- Stephen Eddins, allmusic.com
“Franz Mazura, an Austrian bass-baritone was best known for his compelling portrayals of operatic villains. Mr. Mazura’s earthy, deep-set voice was ideal for the dark, menacing characters he specialized in. During his prime years he excelled as Klingsor, the evil sorcerer in Wagner’s PARSIFAL, and Don Pizarro, the corrupt governor of a state prison in Beethoven’s FIDELIO. He helped make opera history in 1979 when the first production of Berg’s LULU in its three-act version was presented in Paris. Mr. Mazura sang the double-role of Dr. Schön, a morally bankrupt and lecherous newspaper editor, and the murderous Jack the Ripper. He appears on both the recording and the video of this landmark production, directed by Patrice Chereau and conducted by Pierre Boulez. Mr. Mazura became renowned for these dual roles, which he sang in 1980 for his well-received Metropolitan Opera debut, conducted by James Levine. His Dr. Schön ‘dominated the stage’ both for ‘acting and for clarity of enunciation’, the critic Patrick J. Smith wrote in OPERA magazine. This Dr. Schön was ‘truly a powerful figure eaten from within’, Mr. Smith continued, and the ‘cold mania’ of his Jack the Ripper was ‘equally chilling in its impact’. Mr. Mazura appeared at the Met 175 times, through 2002.
He was also known for his sneering, nasal-toned portrayal of Alberich the dwarf in Wagner’s RING cycle. Reviewing a 1981 production of the cycle’s DAS RHEINGOLD at the Met, the critic Bill Zakariasen wrote in THE DAILY NEWS that Mr. Mazura was ‘as fine an Alberich as I have witnessed’, and praised his ‘potent voice, venomous, yet human’ presence and ‘gnarled appearance’. An imposing figure onstage, Mr. Mazura brought ominous intensity to the darkly buffoonish role of the Doctor in Berg’s WOZZECK and to the sadistic police chief Scarpia in Puccini’s TOSCA, one of several parts typically sung by baritones that were in his repertory….the bad guys were his favorites, as he said in a 2017 interview with NEUE PRESSE in Germany….He was 47 when he made his debut at the prestigious Bayreuth Festival in Germany, in 1971, singing Gunther in Wagner’s GOTTERDÄMMERUNG. He continued a close association with Bayreuth through 1995. He kept performing almost to the very end….he rang in his 95th birthday while performing the small role of Hans Schwarz in Wagner’s DIE MEISTERSINGER VON NÜRNBERG at the Berlin State Opera, a production conducted by Daniel Barenboim.”
- Anthony Tommasini, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 29 Jan., 2020
“With the end of the war Solti was appointed musical director of the Bavarian State Opera in Munich in 1946. In normal circumstances this prestigious post would have been an unthinkable appointment for a young and inexperienced conductor, but the leading German conductors such as Wilhelm Furtwängler, Clemens Krauss and Herbert von Karajan were prohibited from conducting pending the conclusion of denazification proceedings against them. Under Solti's direction, the company rebuilt its repertoire and began to recover its pre-war eminence. He benefited from the encouragement of the elderly Richard Strauss, in whose presence he conducted DER ROSENKAVALIER. In 1961 he became musical director of the Covent Garden Opera Company, London. During his ten-year tenure, he introduced changes that raised standards to the highest international levels. Under his musical directorship the status of the company was recognised with the grant of the title ‘the Royal Opera’.”
- Zillah D. Akron