Today marks the 225th anniversary of Mozart’s death. To commemorate it Universal Records (Deutsche Grammophon and Decca basically) have put together a special commemorative edition which I have had a chance to dip into, but not much more than dip into, because it is huge. It’s a cuboid about the size of an LP record and a little over half as deep. It weighs 10kg. Inside are 200 CDs containing the complete works of Mozart including juvenalia, fragments, arrangements and alternative versions. There’s also a copy of the latest Kerchel catalogue, some prints and two very handsome hardback books; a new biography by Cliff Eisen and a second volume containing essays and work by work commentary. What there isn’t is libretti for the vocal works but it actually gets better. One can go to the website mozart225.com and download an app, offered in a choice of languages, with the libretti of all the works plus translation. (You do need the code from the set to do this). OK so I’m a bit of a gadget freak but all the Mozart libretti on my phone? How cool is that?
I’ve only scratched the surface of the recordings so far but indicative of what’s there, and the range, one could just look at the da Ponte operas. The Figaro is the classic Östmann Drottningholm recording with Barbara Bonney, Arleen Auger and Håken Hagagård among others. Così is the Solti recording with Renée Fleming and Anne Sofie von Otter. Don Giovanni is more recent with Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducting a cast that includes d’Arcangelo, Pisaroni, DiDonato, Damrau and Villazón. That was the first recording I put on. It’s really good.
On the orchestral side every work is given is on period instruments but there in some cases additional modern instrument versions. I listened to a very good K595 with Malcolm Bilson on fortepiano but there is also Emil Gilels with Böhm and the Vienna Phil for those that way inclined. I also enjoyed listening to Anthony Halstead playing a natural horn in the Concerto in D. I could go on but all the details are on the website.
One could question the value of recordings of some of the very minor works for anybody but a large library but if one is going to put together something comprehensive then this is certainly a very classy way to do it.