Countertenor Sabadus in Brief, Excellent Mozart Recital

Review by: Robert Levine


Artistic Quality: 8

Sound Quality: 8

Judging from this live concert (with no audience sound whatsoever) Romanian countertenor Valer Sabadus has a big, exciting voice, vibrant and filled with colors. The program is far too brief–there is just 50 minutes of music here and seven-and-a-half of it is taken up with a (well-played) version of the Lucio Silla overture. Mozart wrote very little for castrato, but had “Exultate jubilate” been included, this would have offered far better bang for the buck.

Beginning with a bravura piece from Finta, Sabadus pulls out all the correct coloratura stops–fast, accurate divisions, a nice trill; the second Finta piece is more introspective and is sung with meltingly lovely tone and is finely phrased. The first aria from Silla is even more appealing–a love song–and is sung quietly and with long, legato lines; the second is, again, bravura, with long, melismatic phrases; Sabadus adds a polite cadenza to the aria’s final moments.

Idamante’s “Non ho colpa” is well known and Sabadus handles it handsomely, probably singing it better than any mezzo-soprano I’ve ever heard, and really going to town with a cadenza. “Deh, per queste istante solo” from Clemenza is the recital’s most dramatic and complex piece, and by using a panoply of dynamics, along with impeccable intonation, Sabadus makes a meal of it. The CD ends with Cherubino’s “Voi che sapete”, which was not written for a castrato; I’ve heard countertenors sing it before and it never sounds quite right. Nor does it here, despite wonderfully boyish inflections and fine use of dynamics.

No texts or translations and only 43 minutes of singing stop this from being very highly rated, but what we get, however, is stunning.

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Recording Details:

Album Title: Mozart Castrato Arias
    Arias from La finta gardinieria, Lucio Silla (plus overture), La clemenza di Tito, Le nozze di Figaro
  • Valer Sabadus (countertenor)
  • RECREATION - Großes Orchester Graz, Michael Hofstetter

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