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Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
La Clemenza di Tito (1791) - Overture [4'45]; Come ti piace imponi [2'50]; Deh se piacer mi vuoi [5'29]; March [1'35]; Del più sublime soglio [3'04]; Ah perdona al primo affetto [3'07]; Ah, se fosse intorno al trono [2'16]; Parto, ma tu ben mio [6'56]; Deh, conservate, oh Dei [7'03]; Torna di Tito a lato [2'31]; Ah grazie si rendano [3'27]; Tu fosti tradito [3'21]; Deh per questo istante solo [7'52]; Se all'impero, amici Dei [5'05]; S'altro che lacrime [1'51]; Ecco il punto, oh Vitellia [2'17]; Non più di fiori [7'45]; Tu, è ver, m'assolvi [4'24].
Philip Langridge (tenor) Titus; Lucia Popp (soprano) Vitellia; Ruth Ziesak (soprano) Servilia; Ann Murray (mezzo) Sextus; Delores Ziegler (mezzo) Annius; László Polgár (bass) Publius;
Chorus and Orchestra of Zürich Opera/Nikolaus Harnoncourt.
Rec. Grosse Kirche Altstetten, Zürich, in March 1993. DDD
WARNER APEX 2564 61518-2 [76'32]

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For anyone who wants an excellent introduction to this fascinating opera, look no further. There is a huge amount of life about this performance, due in no small measure to Harnoncourt's always vibrant direction. He inspires the Zürich forces to give of their best and the distinguished soloists rarely disappoint.

There is a brief synopsis supplied, and a dramatis personae with a short note for each character's place in the plot. Enough for the novice to get started, at least.

It is difficult to single out a single 'best' soloist, although my listening notes did point towards Delores Ziegler for this accolade. Her glowing voice and entirely convincing lyricism are heard to great effect particularly in Annius's Act 2 'Tu fosti tradito'. To list her above the great Lucia Popp is praise indeed, especially with Popp on such form; try Popp's expressive aria, 'Dei se piacer mi vuoi' or the Act 2 'Non più di fiori'.

Philip Langridge is a born Mozartian. His Idomeneo on DVD is a real treat (see my review ); his Titus no less so. His intrinsic musicality means there will not be a single jarring phrase. His 'Del più sublime soglio' shows his expressive best. Ann Murray provides a really special 'Parto' - perhaps the most famous part of this opera - her legato a model of its kind.

Harnoncourt's accompaniments have a vibrant life of their own (try the orchestral interjections in Vitellia's 'Non più di fiori'). The Overture has the characteristic Harnoncourt attack ... and here it works so well.

If you are new to this opera and want to dip your toe in, do not hesitate. Lucia Popp fans - who probably have the complete set anyway - will find ample confirmation of her greatness here.

Colin Clarke


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