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Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2009

Mozart’s Operas on CD

Classical Review

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For classical music lovers, there's something special about owning a great composer's complete works or particular genre (symphonies, concertos, etc.). In a sense we feel we own a piece of the composer's very being, come closer to his soul, find comfort in knowing that we are not missing any hidden gems.

For the legion of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart fans, nirvana arrived in 1991 with Philips' "Complete Mozart Edition." While that all-encompassing set has yet to be re-released, Decca has just issued a 44-CD box set of Mozart's complete operasv—everything from La Finta Semplice, composed when he was but 11 years old, to Die Zauberflöte, his final opera/singspiel completed just before his untimely death. All told, there are 20 operas, and, yes, these are the exact same recordings as once sold with the "Complete Mozart Edition," which means you get top-notch Mozartian conductors, singers and orchestras throughout (recordings themselves took place from 1971 to 1991).

As a set, "Mozart: The Complete Operas" takes up less than 4 inches of shelf space since the discs are in paper sleeves and all are held within a cube (with a nice depiction of the Queen of the Night's Der Hölle Rache kocht aria from Zauberflöte gracing the cover). At roughly $80 this is an amazing buy, but there is a drawback: There are no libretti, only brief essays concerning each opera (a CD-ROM containing the libretti would have been nice). But for the budget-conscious Classical completist, this set comes highly recommended.

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