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Hyperion Records

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Cover image by Debbie Coates
Track(s) taken from CKD398
Recording details: August 2011
Blackheath Concert Halls, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Philip Hobbs
Engineered by Philip Hobbs
Release date: May 2012
Total duration: 76 minutes 30 seconds

'If you discount the ‘sacred singspiel' Die Schuldigkeit des ersten Gebots, Apollo et Hyacinthus is Mozart's first opera, written in 1767 when he was just 11 years old. It was commissioned to form lighter musical interludes to be performed during the weightier play 'The Clemency of Croesus', presented by pupils at the grammar school attached to Salzburg University. Mozart's libretto, in Latin, adapts the story of the god Apollo and the youth Hyacinthus, killed with a blow from a discus thrown by the jealous Zephyrus. The gay love triangle of the original myth is disguised in Rufinus Widl's libretto by the introduction of Hyacinthus's sister Melia, whom Apollo loves instead. Either way, it's a simple story that Mozart tells in a sequence of da capo arias, plus the odd duet, trio or chorus, with continuo-accompanied recitative linking them together. It's an astonishing piece for an 11 year-old, of course, though not in the same league as Mozart's mature works. The Classical Opera Company principals do very nicely by it. Tenor Andrew Kennedy, sopranos Sophie Bevan and Klara Ek and countertenor Lawrence Zazzo are all excellent, and Ian Page's band is neat and stylish' (BBC Music Magazine)

'Even by the standards of Mozart's astonishingly precocious childhood, this is an extraordinary achievement, a little gem of an opera written when he was just 11 years old. Commissioned by the grammar school in Salzburg as a musical interlude in its annual Latin play, it displays the audacious assurance of a composer at least three times his age. Ian Page, setting out on an epic Mozart series for Linn, conducts a top cast, including tenor Andrew Kennedy, the sopranos Sophie Bevan and Klara Ek and countertenors Lawrence Zazzo and Christopher Ainslie, with the crisp and alert Classical Opera orchestra driven along by the fine harpsichordist Steven Devine' (The Observer)

'This scintillating recording of the 1767 Latin opera reveals just how early Mozart's instinct for character was formed. In keeping with historic practice, cellist Joseph Crouch's continuo line is arpeggiated. The cast is beautifully contrasted, with Klara Ek and Sophie Bevan the cool and warm sopranos and Lawrence Zazzo and Christopher Ainslie the heroic and plangent counter-tenors. Tenor Andrew Kennedy sings Oebalus with authority and elegance' (The Independent)

'And what music! While not competing in any way with the Da Ponte operas of course, I have heard many classical period pieces by mature composers that can't top the sheer invention found here. This three-part plus overture (intrada) work sparkles from beginning to end, and we marvel at the skill of the young composer. Sure there is a little too much recitative, but even that resonates with a skill and dramatic flavor that a man twice the age—make that three times—would be proud to have accomplished. This production is simply wonderful and leaps to the top of a very small list. The Hegel recording on the Philips Mozart Edition years ago was fine but can't compete with this. Notable are the principals, Klara Ek as Melia and counter-tenor Lawrence Zasso as Apollo, who carry the weight of the production, but also menacing is the counter-tenor of Christopher Ainslie who takes the role of Zephyrus. The orchestra is first rate' (Audiophile Audition, USA)

Apollo et Hyacinthus, K38
composer
Latin intermedium in three parts (1767)
author of text

No 1: Intrada  [2'41]

Other albums featuring this work
'Mozart: The A-Z of Mozart Opera' (SIGCD373)
Mozart: The A-Z of Mozart Opera
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