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No sooner has DG’s Die Entführung aus dem Serail hit the shelves than another version chases it, this time conducted by René Jacobs with the Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin. And it’s a much more appealing proposition all round. Jacobs treats the work as a Hörspiel (literally ‘play for listening’), adding sound effects, a fortepiano and dramatic devices such as interruption, anticipation (perhaps humming or whistling a tune before singing it) and blending music and speech. I feared that this might be a bit gimmicky but in fact it adds real liveliness to the performance, aided by a youthful cast and Jacob’s pacey conducting, which draws full spice from the orientalism of the score. Robin Johannsen’s Constanze is perhaps light-voiced, as is Maximilian Schmitt’s Belmonte, but they both possess the sweetest tone and sound attractively young and fresh. The Blonde and Pedrillo, Mari Eriksmoen and Julian Pregardien, have more vivacious talents, and all four singers possess fluent coloratura. Add Dimitry Ivashchenko’s sprightly Osmin and Cornelius Obonya as a seductively spoken Selim and you have a set well worth investigating. If you’re looking for big star names then perhaps this isn’t for you, but it boasts a committed and homogenous cast, a sense of happy music-making and an abundance of charm.

Francis Muzzu Read the full review on Agora Classica

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