Beethoven: Ah! Perfido;
Haydn: Berenice, che fai?;
Mozart: Non più, tutto ascoltai – Non temer, amato bene*; Ah, lo previdi… Ah, t’invola agl’occhi miei etc; Myslivecˇek: La clemenza di Tito – ‘Se mai senti’
Cecilia Bartoli (mezzo-soprano), *Maxim Vengerov (violin); Basel Chamber Orchestra/Muhai Tang
Decca 485 2093 59:04 mins
This selection of (mostly) concert or insertion arias was recorded in 2013, though not previously released. Most are relatively well known, except for the item by the Czech-born Josef Mysliveček (1737-81), who enjoyed a successful career in Italy where for a time he was on close terms with the much younger Mozart. He was clearly influenced by him, as is evidenced by ‘Se mai senti spirarti sul volto’ from his La clemenza di Tito (1774) – a Metastasio libretto would later also be set by Mozart in altered form.
Some of Bartoli’s best singing comes in this piece. Elsewhere there are passages where her characteristic commitment to textual expression becomes over-vehement; at worst, it sounds petulant. There are also points when her tone takes on a mottled hue.
Yet much of her more delicate singing combines beauty of tone with expressiveness. The slow section of Beethoven’s ‘Ah! Perfido’ is lovely; then in the furious concluding section she loses control of pitch. Much of the disc, regrettably, continues this contradictory approach.
Violinist Maxim Vengerov, however, goes for unblemished lyricism in his two obbligatos – ‘Non temer, amato bene’ from Idomeneo, ‘L’amerò, sarò costante’ from Il re pastore – while the orchestral accompaniments are beautifully managed under Muhai Tang.