WORKS: Così fan tutte
PERFORMER: Renée Fleming, Anne Sofie von Otter, Frank Lopardo, Olaf Bär, Adelina Scarabelli, Michele Pertusi; London Voices, Chamber Orchestra of Europe/Georg Solti
CATALOGUE NO: 444 174-2 DDD
It is more than twenty years since Solti last recorded Così for Decca, and if that earlier version was far from ideally cast, this new one more than makes amends. Above all, it has a commanding Fiordiligi in Renée Fleming, who conveys all the tragic vulnerability of this central character. Her performance of the great second-act rondo ‘Per pietà’ would be enough to melt the hardest of hearts. Anne Sofie von Otter and Olaf Bär are in fine form, too; and while Adelina Scarabelli is not exactly a mistress of disguises (she scarcely alters her voice at all for Despina’s part as the mesmeric doctor), her vitality is irresistible. More contentious is the Ferrando of Frank Lopardo. True, he can scale down his voice admirably, but all too often he lacks a genuine sense of line, and his intonation is unreliable.
Solti conducts an affectionate account, with only an occasional sign of haste (the quintet in which the two pairs of lovers first confront each other; the second-act serenade), and he is greatly helped by fine playing from the Chamber Orchestra of Europe. The performance is a public one, and some may feel the dramatic flow impeded by the intervening applause, but all in all, this must be one of the finest recordings of Mozart’s miraculous score available.