WORKS: La clemenza di Tito
PERFORMER: Uwe Heilmann, Cecilia Bartoli, Barbara Bonney, Della Jones, Diana Montague, Gilles Cachemaille; Academy of Ancient Music Chorus &Orchestra/ Christopher Hogwood
CATALOGUE NO: 444 131-2 DDD
If a good performance of Tristan is in danger of inducing madness (see below), then a good performance of La clemenza di Tito, Mozart’s paean to the civilising things of life – magnanimity, compassion and reason – should be the perfect cure. On musical grounds, Christopher Hogwood’s typically lean and lightweight account is difficult to fault, save perhaps on dramatic grounds. Unlike other versions it’s presented absolutely complete, with all of Süssmayr’s recitativo semplice, though this turns out to be a bit of a mixed blessing since it’s not projected as convincingly as it might be.
But there can be few quibbles about the quality of the singing. Cecilia Bartoli’s firm, fruity mezzo-soprano voice, agile in the passagework and intense and vibrant in the slower numbers, is used to good advantage as Sesto, and is well contrasted with Diana Montague’s warm and immaculately turned Annio, Della Jones’s vivid Vitellia and Barbara Bonney’s exquisite Servilia. The quiet simplicity of Uwe Heilmann’s Tito is also appealing; though lacking the meaningful intensity of Philip Langridge in Harnoncourt’s recent account (Teldec), he is, on his own terms, just as convincing.