Mozart: Così fan tutte

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Mozart
LABELS: Sony
WORKS: Così fan tutte
PERFORMER: Simone Kermes, Malena Ernman, Christopher Maltman, Kenneth Tarver, Anna Kasyan, Konstantin Wolff; MusicAeterna/Teodor Currentzis
CATALOGUE NO: 88765466162

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Teodor Currentzis and his Perm-based period-instrument band Music Aeterna’s Marriage of Figaro proved controversial. Its follow-up in what is eventually intended to be a Mozart Da Ponte trilogy is no less so.

Yet there’s undeniably a strong sense of personality to everything the conductor does, with the identity of each phrase questioned and, presumably where he considers necessary, reassigned. Speeds can be extreme. The main Presto of the overture is taken at quite a lick – almost faster, in fact, than the players can articulate, with accents deliberately emphasised. Elsewhere tempos are slower than one expects. Nothing, at any rate, is middle of the road, though the results are not invariably convincing. Most notable of all is the interventionist nature of the continuo, with the fortepiano, in particular, on the hyperactive side – though arguably always for genuinely expressive reasons. At its best the music simply pulses with life, without a hint of routine.

Of the cast, Simone Kermes’s Fiordiligi is the most distinctive, if not actually idiosyncratic; in their initial scene, she and Malena Ernman’s Dorabella seem pretty conventional in their thoughts of their beloveds, but both liven up later on, with Kermes delivering a flamboyant ‘Come scoglio’, with many expressive decorations. Kenneth Tarver makes a suavely debonair Ferrando and Christopher Maltman a bluff and confident Guglielmo. Of the two plotters, Anna Kasyan is a traditionally earthy Despina, but Konstantin Wolff’s deliberately matter-of-fact Don Alfonso seems on the ordinary side.

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George Hall