Christiane Karg: Amoretti
The current CD fashion for compiling 18th-century operatic miscellanies produces here an extremely attractive potpourri – and it’s extremely attractively executed by Christiane Karg, a Frankfurt-based soprano now attaining wider fame. The supposed theme – which the booklet essays fail to clearly explain – is ‘Cupid’s arrow’. In fact, the focus on (in order of seniority) Gluck, Grétry and Mozart, three composers who knew and admired each other’s work, has enabled a skilfully interrelated selection. It’s both French (with items summarising Gluck and Grétry’s ‘international’ successes) and Italian (reflecting both Gluck’s and Mozart’s earlier grounding in Italy), and explores showpiece vocalità and the ‘beautiful simplicity’ that Gluck pioneered and his two successors advanced.
The opening item, the exquisitely gentle ‘Amoretti’ from Mozart’s very early Finta semplice, sums up the disc’s strengths as well as Karg’s achievement: she’s an expert technician with a lovely bright voice. She is also a responsive, intelligent mood-creator and stylist – less remarkable in imaginative insight, perhaps, than her compatriot Simone Kermes, but also much less vocally mannered. Karg’s low notes can seem relatively weak, her French less natural sounding than her Italian. Overall, though, these polished performances, excellently supported by a British conductor and period band, should give much pleasure.