Mozart: Arias from Lucia Silla, Il re pastore, Die Zauberflöte,

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COMPOSERS: Mozart
LABELS: Naïve Astrée
WORKS: Arias from Lucia Silla, Il re pastore, Die Zauberflöte,
PERFORMER: Sandrine Piau (soprano); Freiburg Baroque Orchestra/Gottfried von der Goltz
CATALOGUE NO: E 8877
Though she first made her mark as a Baroque specialist, French soprano Sandrine Piau has recently been winning her spurs in Mozart, both on disc (as a delightful Ismene in Christophe Rousset’s Mitridate) and in the opera house. Her gentle, limpid tone, refined phrasing and agile coloratura invariably give pleasure here. Perhaps inevitably, though, some numbers come off better than others. In Servilia’s exquisite minuet song from La clemenza di Tito, she sings with ideal tenderness and candour; and in two arias from Mitridate (where Piau has now graduated to the heroine Aspasia), she dazzles with the jewelled accuracy of her coloratura and conjures marvels of grace and delicacy in the slow sections of ‘Nel grave tormento’. Elsewhere, though, you might wish for a touch more intensity and keener engagement with the text: stylishly as she sings two of Konstanze’s arias from Die Entführung, ‘Traurigkeit’, especially, sounds rather cool and detached – more incisive German and a more urgent tempo would have helped

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for starters. Slowness, plus an intermittent tendency to squeeze individual notes rather than sing a pure legato, also slightly mars Piau’s touchingly sincere performance of Pamina’s ‘Ach, ich fühl’s’ and the ravishing lullaby from Zaide. In captious mode you might also object that Piau lacks a true trill – a must-have for any 18th-century soprano. These quibbles aside, though, there is some delectable and distinguished Mozart-singing here. The Freiburg Baroque Orchestra provides colourful, spirited support in the faster pieces, though it must share responsibility for the dragging tempi in the Zaide and Zauberflöte arias. Richard Wigmore