• Mitsuko Shirai
  • Mihaela Agachi
  • Drew Minter
  • Frieder Lang
  • Mitsuko Shirai
  • Mihaela Agachi
  • Drew Minter
  • Frieder Lang

Nestor among the new generation of critics Chris de Jong-Stolle writing for various newspapers, among them Brabants Dagblad, noted that the more spectacular character of the previous final concerts was somewhat lessened by the number of winners with a specialization in Lieder. Even if there were plenty of opera arias included, these were mostly composed by the likes of Mozart and Mozart, and therefore hardly dramatic in texture. Nonetheless, he thought it was a very pleasant evening, even if more intimate than one was used to in den Bosch:

‘This was accentuated by the frequent piano accompaniment, which provided the most beautiful moments of the evening. Which is not a rebuff addressed to André Rieu Sr., since the orchestral works were executed brilliantly. However, these singers excelled s the piano. Accompanied by the eminent pianist Harmut Höll, Great Prize Winner Mitsuko Shirai treated the audience to two sublime renditions of Lieder by Hugo Wolf. She sung these with a disarming purity and complete surrender, proving that she fully merited her prizes. Later on, in an aria by Bach, she showed the same purity of voice, and a deep knowledge of what she was singing, providing the utmost satisfaction to the audience. Here Rieu had solo flutist Frans van de Wiel share in the applause, and rightfully so. ’ (Chris de Jong-Stolle, ‘Tam slotconcert,’ Brabants Dagblad, September 8, 1976)

Praise also for Frieder Lang’s rendition of Lieder by Schubert and Richard Strauss:

‘He sang these with ease and was noticeably more relaxed than during the competition. In his two Mozart arias he proved a talent for this genre too; they sounded most convincing.’ (Chris de Jong-Stolle, ‘Tam slotconcert,’ Brabants Dagblad, September 8, 1976)

De Jong-Stolle was very supportive also for Second Prize winner among mezzo sopranos, Romanian Mihaela Agachi:

‘Very convincing this evening was the only opera singer, the Romanian Mihaela Agachi. Her arias met with justified success. Especially the last one from Massenet’s Werther, proved her outstanding qualities.’ (Chris de Jong-Stolle, ‘Tam slotconcert,’ Brabants Dagblad, September 8, 1976)

A final word of praise, wholly sustained by the recordings, was reserved for André Rieu’s orchestral accompaniment, most notably in a stout overture from Rossini’s Guillaume Tell, a warm Sinfonia from Händel’s Messiah, and a refined overture to Mozart’s Die Entführung aus dem Serail.

A note on the recordings

For lack of the original program in our archives, we do not have the exact program. The order below is based on the extensive excerpts of the broadcast, adjusted to the remarks on the order of things as presented to us from De Jong-Stolle’s review. We believes the arias and songs to be complete, and only the Rossini ‘Overture’ and the Händel ‘Sinfonia’ missing. Regrettably, Dinah Harris was under contract and could not participate in the final concert.


September 8, 1976
IVC Concluding Gala Concert, Bois le Duc Hall, Brabant Province House, Den Bosch
Brabants orkest – André Rieu Sr. (conductor)


1   Rossini Guillaume Tell ‘Overture’
2 Frieder Lang (t)
Die Zauberflöte ‘Wie stark ist nicht dein Zaubertön’
3 Mihaela Agachi (ms)
Rossini Semiramide  ‘Ah! Quel giorno’
4 Händel Messiah ‘Sinfonia’
5 Drew Minter (ct)
Händel The Messiah ‘O thou that tallest good tidings to Zion’
6 Mitsuko Shirai (s)
Wolf ‘Die Spröde’ *
7 Mitsuko Shirai (s)
Wolf ‘Die Bekehrte’ *
8 Mozart Die Entführung aus dem Serail ‘Overture’
9 Mitsuko Shairai (s)
Bach Cantate 209 Non sia dolore ‘Arti pur’
10 Drew Minter (ct)
Bach Cantate 170 ‘Verglückte Ruh’
11 Frieder Lang (t)
Mozart Die Entführung aus dem Serail ‘Wenn der Freuden Tränen fliessen’
12 Mitsuko Shirai (s)
Haydn Die Schöpfung ‘Nun beut die Flur das frische Grün’
13 Mihaela Agachi (ms)
Massenet Werther ‘Air de lettres’


* Hartmut Höll (piano)