Mozart: Il sogno di Scipione

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5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

LABELS: Naïve Astrée
WORKS: Il sogno di Scipione
PERFORMER: Malin Hartelius, Lisa Larsson, Christine Brandes, Bruce Ford, Charles Workman, Jeremy Ovenden; Choeur des Musiciens du Louvre, Freiburg Baroque Orchestra/Gottfried von der Goltz
Mozart composed The Dream of Scipio in 1771 between Mitridate and Lucio Silla and it has suffered in the comparison. The static nature of the plot and the conservative musical style demanded by the Salzburg audience have all counted against it. Taken on its own terms, however, it is much more than just a historical curiosity. Despite some less inspired passages, the score has an infectious energy and excitement. In Metastasio’s somewhat sententious libretto, the Roman commander Scipio Aemilianus has a dream in which he is forced to choose between the two goddesses Fortune and Constancy. Lisa Larsson (Fortune) and Malin Hartelius (Constancy) are well contrasted as the two competing goddesses. Larsson is all spitfire pyrotechnics while Hartelius exudes grace and charm. The rival recording on Philips has Edita Gruberová and Lucia Popp in these roles – both on excellent form. It also has a fine Scipio in Peter Schreier, who is marginally better than Bruce Ford in this killer role, though both sound strained in places. The supporting cast is good, especially Christine Brandes, who gives us both versions of the final aria. What clinches the matter is the superbly thrusting accompaniment from Gottfried von der Goltz and the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra which makes Leopold Hager on Philips seem very tame. Clive Portbury