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Anime Immortali (Franco Fagioli)

Franco Fagioli (countertenor); Kammerorchester Basel/Daniel Bard (Pentatone)

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

Mozart – Anime immortali
Exsultate, jubilate; arias from La finta giardiniera, Lucio Silla, Davide penitente, La clemenza di Tito etc
Franco Fagioli (countertenor); Kammerorchester Basel/Daniel Bard
Pentatone PTC 5187 044   47:17 mins

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How long before a countertenor in search of repertoire remembered that there are castrato roles in seven of Mozart’s operas and that the role of Sesto in his last stage work was written for the much-admired Domenico Bedini? The Italian countertenor Franco Fagioli, has borrowed back this music from mezzos-in-trousers to produce a fine recording, elegantly partnered by the Kammerorchester Basel conducted by Daniel Bard.

The clarinet obligato in Sesto’s aria ‘Parto, parto’ from La clemenza is perfectly poised and full of feeling. After the steady beat of a lover’s fidelity strides through the slow second section of the aria the importunate clarinet returns to urge the lover on who then tips his hat to his orchestral companion with the most elegant of trills.

In ‘Va’ pure ad altri in braccio’ from La finta giardiniera the strings dive down in fury in a style that teases Gluck’s ideas about how rage should sound in reformed opera. But it’s Fagioli who commands the storm with admirable breath control here as throughout this recording, with an almost seamless line from the dramatic top of the voice to fruity chest notes. Fagioli is more male mezzo than soprano when it pleases him.

The Basel players are on best behaviour again in the earliest version of Exsultate, jubilate. And so is Fagioli. True his diction is sometimes a little cloudy but the decoration on the opening aria has the listener chasing after his runs and trills like a puppy after a bouncing ball.

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Christopher Cook