This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.
Notes and Editorial Reviews
Sir Charles Mackerras's high accomplishment as a conductor of Mozart's operas has been thinly represented in the record catalogue, which makes this stylish, unaffected and attractively lively version of Cosi fan tutte particularly welcome. It is not, of course, a period-instrument version, but it does show, in its clean textures, its crisp articulation and its (generally) quickish tempos, not to mention its appoggiaturas, a very keen sense of period style, and one, too, with a strong feeling for the work's theatrical qualities.
It begins, a little surprisingly, with the Andante of the Overture taken very speedily (to match, no doubt, the later appearance of some of the same music in the Overture, though that may not be a
secure argument); and the Presto is done at a cracking pace, played with total precision by the excellent Scottish woodwind. This sets the scene for a spirited account of the opening sequence for the menfolk when the wager is placed, done with plenty of life and vigour and with some specially nice details of timing in the third of the trios as the officers boast (poor souls) about how they plan to spend their winnings. Then Mackerras brings a softer, more tender tone to the sisters' music. He does not, like some conductors, luxuriate in the saturated textures of ''Sento, o Dio'', where the five voices and the warm orchestration invite it, but saves the sentiment for the true farewell quintet (well, mock farewell), ''Di scrivermi ogni giorno'', taken decidedly slowly, and very touchingly, with these lightish, fresh-sounding voices and transparent textures.
This opening sets the tone of the performance. Mackerras keeps the score moving along at a good pace. There are a few slowish tempos—I thought the B flat Andante of the first finale a little on the leisurely side, and some of the focal points, such as ''Il core vi dono'', Fiordiligi's ''Per pieta'', Ferrando's plea in ''Fra gli amplessi'' (after a duly turbulent Allegro) and the canon in the finale, are given a good deal of time to allow them their proper emotional weight. But the general sense is of a spruce and keenly rhythmic performance. The recitative is done in alert fashion, with a real sense of its conversational nature, and with plenty of appoggiaturas giving the music shape to match the words. There are a lot of them in the lyrical music too, to its undoubted benefit; I am sure this is how Mozart expected to hear the work. (He might have asked for two more, in ''Fra gli amplessi'': I was surprised that Felicity Lott did not sing appoggiaturas at the very beginning—on the ''-ples'', to be exact—or later at the cadence ''Dei consiglio!''.)
Felicity Lott has sung Fiordiligi with much distinction on the stage in London and elsewhere and I am glad to see her performance captured so well here. She is not one of those heroic Fiordiligis, a near-Leonore or Brunnhilde, but rather has a softness and a hint of frailty to her voice that is apt for the part and provides much pleasanter and more sympathetic listening. There is nevertheless a touch of real nobility to ''Come scoglio''. The top of the voice is beautifully warm and creamy, and the bottom (much needed here) is clear and well-defined. All the singers provide, no doubt at Mackerras's behest, some decoration, and none more than Lott, who elaborates the fermatas in her first aria and ornaments the repeated music considerably in her second. Some listeners will be a little shocked, but this is the kind of thing that was expected of a singer in Mozart's time (even if none of the 'period' performances offers much of the kind); though I should add that I thought some passages, such as bar 33 of ''Per pieta'', were not quite in style, early nineteenth-century rather than late-eighteenth. Marie McLaughlin makes an appealing Dorabella, in good voice, unexaggerated in manner, and particularly charming and spirited in ''E amore un ladroncello''. The two blend happily in their duetting. I also enjoyed Nuccia Focile's frolicsome Despina, not without a touch of pertness and shallow tone at times but a neat and rhythmic singer, even quite graceful in the 'lesson in love' scene.
Outstanding among the men is Alessandro Corbelli, a very fetching Guglielmo, who can plead as ardently and eloquently as many a tenor but can also articulate his rapid music with due clarity and athleticism. And the lightish, flexible voice fits happily in the ensembles. Jerry Hadley is a skilled and reasonably lyrical Ferrando, not quite as poised or refined as one might hope for in ''Un'aura amorosa'' nor ideally polished in the rapid passages in the finale ensembles, but it is nevertheless a very agreeable performance. A slightly slower tempo might have made ''Ah, lo veggio'' easier to bring off. Gilles Cachemaille, who uses his voice and words with much intelligence, makes an accomplished, rather lightweight Don Alfonso.
There are no heavy voices in this performance, in fact, and that, with the modest-size orchestra and the alert direction, gives it its individual character. There are others in the catalogue with greater intensity to the singing, and yet others with a higher overall polish; of all operas, Cosi has fared wonderfully on records, and several of the finest versions (the Karajan, the second Bohm) are available on CD, along with some excellent more modern interpretations (such as Sir Colin Davis's), not to mention a couple of superlative period performances (Oestman, Gardiner). This new one has many virtues: it captures the vitality and sense of fun that run through the work as well as any. The recorded quality is unusually clear and, carefully nurtured by Mackerras, the delights of Mozart's scoring can readily be heard.
-- Stanley Sadie, Gramophone [4/1994]
Works on This Recording
Così fan tutte, K 588 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Gilles Cachemaille (Baritone),
Alessandro Corbelli (Baritone),
Jerry Hadley (Tenor),
Felicity Lott (Soprano),
Nuccia Focile (Soprano),
Marie McLaughlin (Mezzo Soprano)
Sir Charles Mackerras
Scottish Chamber Orchestra,
Edinburgh Festival Chorus
Written: 1790; Vienna, Austria
Date of Recording: 08/1993
Venue: Usher Hall, Edinburgh, Scotland
Length: 188 Minutes 0 Secs.
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