Harmoniemusik from Mozart’s Favorite Operas

Chen Halevi, Winds Unlimited

(7 press reviews)
Original Recording Format: DSD 64
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In the eighteenth century it was common practice to hear excerpts from the public’s favourite operas and ballets, their most loved arias performed in transcriptions usually for wind sextet, or some- times a wind octet, both occassionally with an additional bass instrument.

This Harmoniemusik was all the rage in the last quarter of the eighteenth century, most intensely from 1780s – 1820s, particularly in Vienna but also in Prague and Budapest. This album features Harmoniemusik of some of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s most loved arias from his operas ‘La Clemenza di Tito’, ‘Don Giovanni’ and ‘Le nozze di Figaro’. The transcriptions were made by Georg Kaspar Sartorius (1754-1809).

Needless to say, these particular transcriptions have their own texture and flavor that is apart from the original. What they offer still, are a representation of the bright, varied, virtuosic, melodious and grand music found in these operas reflected through the seductive timbres of clarinets, horns and bassoons, grounded and infused by the warmth of a contra-bass. And still imbued with all the essential brilliance of the original Mozart works. The natural vocal qualities of wind instruments in this grouping lend themselves perfectly to the emotionally charged and human voice Mozart was portraying.

Winds Unlimited
Michal Lewkowicz – Clarinet
Stephane Moser – Horn
Denis Dafflon – Horn
Lisa Goldberg – Bassoon
Giulia Genini – Recorder and Bassoon
Megan Adie – Double Bass

Special Guest
Chen Halevi – Clarinet


Please note that the below previews are loaded as 44.1 kHz / 16 bit.
Le Nozze di Figaro - Sinfonia
Le Nozze di Figaro - Cinque, diece, venti
Le Nozze di Figaro - Se a caso madama
Le Nozze di Figaro - Se vuol ballare signor Contino
Le Nozze di Figaro - Non piu andrai
Le Nozze di Figaro - Susanna or via sortite
La Clemenza di Tito - Come ti piace imponi
La Clemenza di Tito - Del piu sublime soglio
La Clemenza di Tito - Deh se piacer mi vuoi
La Clemenza di Tito - Totna di Tito a lato
La Clemenza di Tito - Ah grazie si rendano
La Clemenza di Tito - Tu fosti tradito
Don Giovanni - Ah chi mi dice mai
Don Giovanni - Giovinette che fate all'amore
Don Giovanni - Ho capito, signor, si
Don Giovanni - La ci darem la mano
Don Giovanni - Eh via buffone
Don Giovanni - Vedrai carino

Total time: 00:52:03

Additional information





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For this album we chose to record in Binaural as well. This is a perfect solution for headphone users. The recordings are made with the dummy head of Neuman, the KU-100. On a headphone this gives a surprisingly realistic image and it gives you the feeling of being at the session. This idea to develop an extra Binaural catalogue in DSD is initiated and supported by Rivasono in The Netherlands.

Digital Converters



B&K 4003

Mixing Board

Rens Heijnis


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Original Recording Format


Tom Peeters

Recording Engineer

Tom Peeters

Recording location

Doopsgezinde Kerk, Deventer, The Netherlands

Recording Software

Merging, Pyramix

Recording Type & Bit Rate


Release DateDecember 30, 2015

Press reviews

NativeDSD Senior Reviewer

Super good album! Highly recommended by me!


The instrumentalists of Winds Unlimited are masters on their instruments and the double bass creates a warm depth. Truly beautiful.

Opus Klassiek

This album is really a ‘must have‘.

It may be strange that in those long-gone times there was much more interest in all kinds of arrangements than in pieces written specifically for the ‘Harmonie’, but for both it was true that high technical requirements were set for their performance, reserved only for wind players who played an important role in the orchestras and were therefore well paid. This is no less true for the seven musicians who make up the ‘Winds Unlimited’ ensemble.

What strikes me is that there are no oboes, while they are so typical of the ‘Harmoniemusik’ of that time. But they are right, because in these arrangements made by Sartorius the oboe strangely does not occur (but two clarinets, 2 horns, two bassoons and contrabassoon (in this case replaced by the double bass).

Musicians who ventured into the ‘Harmoniemusik’ came from a good home at that time. That is no less true today. The Winds Unlimited, playing on copies of original instruments, offer us a flawless ensemble sound with the accompanying sonority. In addition, you can fully enjoy the musical joie de vivre that this ensemble radiates.

The recording made by Tom Peeters can best be called a masterpiece. This has become an edition in which everything falls masterfully into place.

Fono Forum

By doing without the usual pair of oboes, Georg Kasper Sartorius’ wind sextet, each with two clarinets, horns and bassoons with double bass, acquires a highly distinctive, dark velvety timbre. This comes into its own here, particularly in the slow movements.

In the fast parts, the Winds Unlimited, playing on replicas of historical instruments, produce a cultivated beautiful sound.


It is extremely precarious already nominating an album for Record of the Year. Okay , if there are such beautiful recordings next few months, this is on my wish list.

What wonderful music. A delicious version of these compositions.  Winds Unlimited, seven artists with truly wonderful instruments at their disposal.  And lovely music for the ears.


Music Frames

How wonderful accompaniment and melody are woven into each other, beautifully performed with care and attention. The Winds Unlimited shines with the enthusiasm of an orchestra and the intimacy of quartet.

From each opera they play six arrangements with world premières of ‘La Clemenza di Tito’ and ‘Il Don Giovanni’. This makes the album ‘Concert Music from Mozart’s Favourite Operas’ even more unique!

Klassik.com 4 out of 5

The Winds Unlimited ensemble plays cross-sections of the operas ‘Figaro‘, ‘Tito‘ and ‘Don Giovanni‘ on historical instruments, arranged by Mozart’s contemporary Georg Kasper Sartorius.

Why should one buy Mozart operas in arrangements for wind instruments? Just listen to track one of this new album, the overture to ‘Le nozze di Figaro‘, and there’s no need for any further justification. This is (unfortunately) the only overture on this record, but the other titles are also worthwhile.

The album by Winds Unlimited, features excerpts from ‘La Clemenza di Tito‘, ‘Don Giovanni‘ and ‘Figaro‘. Each with two clarinets, horns and bassoons as well as a double bass of these operas six numbers. Many of the arias are of course very well known (‘Cinque, dieci, venti‘, ‘Se vuol ballare, signor Contino‘, ‘Non più andrai’, ‘Là ci darem la mano‘ and many others).

The recording is a lot of fun, because the instruments are also quite distinctive in their respective colors. The winds play on historical instruments, and there are plenty of tonal abnormalities, especially a very strong nasal bassoon, which often sounds a bit funny but not unpleasant. The sound mixes less than it would with modern instruments, but that’s not necessarily a disadvantage.

In any case, the ensemble is perceived as a well-harmonized unit, and the intonation is, at least for the most part, very clean. Above all, however, the musicians approach the arrangements made by Mozart’s contemporary Georg Kasper Sartorius with great verve and very crisp articulation.

According to the cover, the album features World Premiere Recordings ‘Tito‘ and ‘Don Giovanni‘.  It was about time! So while the above-mentioned ‘Figaro‘ overture has evidently been heard elsewhere in this version, the ‘Favorit-Gesänge‘ from these two other operas are also so enjoyable that it would be a loss not to know them.

Just listen to the rousingly lively ‘Eh via buffone‘ from Don Giovanni, which lasts just over a minute, or its beautifully played closing number (in this version) ‘Vedrai carino‘. The ensemble was apparently recorded very directly, so a lot of breathing and key noises can also be heard well. However, the sound is not completely dry, it was recorded in a church.

The booklet contains detailed information about the musicians and a very detailed introductory text about the works and the Viennese fashion of harmony music in the late 18th century, written by the bassoonist Lisa Goldberg.


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