Mozart: Così fan tutte (highlights)

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Mozart
LABELS: Teldec
WORKS: Così fan tutte (highlights)
PERFORMER: Charlotte Margiono, Delores Ziegler, Gilles Cachemaille, Deon van der Walt Netherlands Opera Chorus, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra/Nikolaus Harnoncourt
CATALOGUE NO: 9031-76455-2 DDD
This is a generous highlights selection from Nikolaus Harnoncourt’s recent complete recording of Così fan tutte with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, including the overture and a judicious mix of aria and ensemble. Harnoncourt takes a relatively hard-nosed view of the opera, resisting the need to sweeten the pill of Da Ponte’s harsh sentimental education.

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The speeds are often brisk (although never absurdly so), and Harnoncourt elicits some trenchant playing from the Concertgebouw strings in particular. One might wish for a more spacious account of the gorgeous trio ‘Soave sia il vento’, but there are moments of great lyricism, particularly in Ferrando’s ‘Un’ aura amorosa’, which can rarely have been so sweetly sung as by Deon van der Walt.

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The two sisters are characterfully acted, Dorabella (Delores Ziegler) gloriously self-dramatising in ‘Smanie implacabili’, with Charlotte Margiono ably communicating Fiordiligi’s progress from the emotional complacency of’Come scoglio’ to the heartache of the great rondo ‘Per pieta’, here beautifully phrased and paced. The disc is accompanied by a detailed plot summary, but no libretto or notes, and some might feel money’s better spent on the complete opera, or on Bohm’s classic mid-price set with Schwarzkopf and Ludwig. William Humphreys-Jones