WORKS: Nehmt meinen Dank, K383; Deh vieni, non tardar; La finta (excerpts);
PERFORMER: Renée Fleming (soprano); Orchestra of St Luke’s/Charles Mackerras
CATALOGUE NO: 452 602-2
In one way, this is yet another opera-diva-curriculum-vitae recording, tracking the burgeoning career of the American soprano Renée Fleming. But there is a difference or two here. The focus is close: Mozart is for Fleming a calling-card of particular distinction. And the selection of arias is by no means predictable: three from La finta and Fortuna’s wonderfully blustery aria from Il sogno di Scipione complement the more obvious choices.
What is more, we don’t have to wait for the arias for the fun to begin. The recitative is the true barometer of any Mozart opera performance; and the sheer theatrical presence of ‘In quali eccessi’ knocks the listener sideways before a note of Donna Anna’s ‘Mi tradì’ has begun.There is the light buoyancy, too, of the word on the musical line in ‘Giunse alfin il momento’, introducing both Susanna’s ‘Deh vieni’ from Figaro and also, something of a rarity, her alternative Act IV aria, ‘Al desio’.
Fleming and Charles Mackerras together have a way of finding, through keenly imaginative listening, the real emotional pulse of an aria, so that it is not just an example of virtuosity accomplished but of the human spirit vividly recreated. A fleet, tremulous ‘Ach, ich fühl’s’ (Die Zauberflöte) and an impassioned ‘Ach, ich liebte’ (Die Entführung) epitomise the excitement of their joint music-making on this disc. Hilary Finch