WORKS: Arias from Così fan tutte, Le nozze di Figaro, Idomeneo & Don Giovanni; Bella mia fiamma, K528
PERFORMER: Barbara Frittoli (soprano); Scottish CO/Charles Mackerras
CATALOGUE NO: 8573-86207-2
The first of these discs celebrates the 40th anniversary of Pavarotti’s debut, but if you look carefully it’s clear that this is not one recital, but extracts from four, given between 1997 and 1999. The format is, however, similar to most of his piano accompanied concerts (Leone Magiera is at the keyboard), the regular arie antiche and Bellini and Tosti selections eked out with favourite arias from Tosca, L’elisir, Rigoletto and L’arlesiana. What is surprising is how well the tenor’s voice still stands up, with just a shade of hardening in the tone revealing his age. Nevertheless we have heard all these items from him before.
Karita Mattila’s selection from her carefully chosen repertoire reveals her sound judgement in what she sings and how she sings it. Her cool Nordic tone is employed with discretion and imagination in solos from Lohengrin, Die Walküre and Elektra (she sings, of course, Chrysothemis) and if it doesn’t quite have the Italian warmth for Manon Lescaut she manages the expressive command.
Barbara Frittoli sticks to Mozart, the core of her repertoire, and brings to it a creamy sound with some heft to the voice. Her Countess (Figaro) is near perfect, the tender melancholy of ‘Porgi, Amor’ delicately captured. That she can deliver such fierce accounts of Elettra’s music from Idomeneo says much for her versatility. The accompaniments are finely delivered under Charles Mackerras.
The Hvorostovsky disc is entirely composed of material previously released, but anyone hearing one of the Russian folksongs, or one of the Italian or Russian arias, may feel the urge to rush out and buy the originals complete, so glorious is the vocalism and the mastery of the styles contained herein. George Hall