Classical CD of the month

Name: Don Giovanni
Composer: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Artists: Johannes Weisser, baritone, Freiburg Baroque Orchestra/Rene
Label: Harmonia Mundi

Simon Keenlyside had been pencilled in for the title-role for this recording, with Johannes Weisser only playing it in the warm-up live performances. Apparently, however, conductor Rene Jacobs was so impressed with his young baritone that he got the gig, as they say.

No Giovanni can encompass every aspect of this multi-faceted role, but I know I am even more enthusiastic about him than our reviewer, Richard Wigmore, who says: 'His Don is less the sinister, demonic anti-hero, more an over-sexed, heedless young bounder with a taste for danger and a penchant for cruelty.'

I feel he has reinvented the role for our age. Weisser was young, only 26 when this was recorded, and sounds it. If his tone sounds a touch callow, that is actually an advantage for a Don who here is presented as utterly narcissistic, shallow in every respect except his deeply felt love for himself. He is not evil, just spoilt.

Thanks to those warm-up live performances, the cast feel like a played-in ensemble and they create real drama and comedy (graced by some of the most sparkling recitative accompaniments you will hear). Three cheers for someone having the sense to record Kenneth Tarver's graceful, agile Ottavio.

James Inverne, editor of Gramophone, chose his favourite of 10 CDs released this month, all reviewed in Gramophone.

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Valid until 31 December 2007.

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