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Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756–1791)
Opera Arias
Zaide K./KV 344 (336b): Ruhe sanft, mein holdes Leben - Aria (Zaide) [6:28]
La Finta Giardiniera K./KV 196: Crudeli fermate…Ah dal pianto - Aria & Cavatina (Sandrina) [5:46]
La Clemenza Di Tito K./KV 621: S’altro che lagrime - Aria (Servilia) [2:07]
Così Fan Tutte K./KV 588: Ei parte... Senti...Per pietà, ben mio, perdona - Recitativo & Rondo (Fiordiligi) [9:33]
Il rè pastore K./KV 208: L’amerò, sarò costante - Aria (Rondeaux) [Aminta) [7:14]
Lucio Silla K./KV 135: Pupille amate- Aria (Cecilio) [3:50]
Idomeneo K./KV 366: Se il padre perdei - Aria (Ilia) [6:19]
Die Zauberflöte K./KV 620: Ach, ich fühl’s - Aria (Pamina) [4:15]
Kiri Te Kanawa (soprano)
London Symphony Orchestra/Sir Colin Davis
rec. October 1982, London
German and Italian texts, no translations.
PHILIPS PRESTO CD 411 148-2 [47:15]

I have tucked in a cupboard an autographed copy of the LP signed by Dame Kiri on its issue in 1983 and well remember the impact this beautiful voice made when she hit the big time in the 1970s and early 1980s. This culminated in her broadcast performance of “Let the Bright Seraphim”, in gorgeous pink, blue and yellow plumage and wearing “that hat” at Charles’ and Diana’s wedding in 1981.

This recording, made later in the following year, captures her smooth, warm, silky soprano at its best in repertoire to which it was ideally suited. No Countess here, but she was equally celebrated as Fiordiligi, and that longest aria forms a familiar centrepiece to a splendid recital of Mozart lollipops. I am slightly baffled upon reading another reviewer referring to her sounding “somewhat taxed” at times, as to my ears she is at her creamy, relaxed best, evincing no strain at all. Her trill is firmly in place, her divisions clean, her tone even through its range and her arcing phrases soar serenely above the stave. This selection encompasses both dreamy, long-breathed arias and impassioned pyrotechnics, including some welcome, lesser known but exceptionally beautiful items. In the lyrical sections, she and her conductor – himself a highly distinguished Mozartian – have evidently agreed upon slower tempi to show off her control and sustained beauty of line. Her timbre retains a faint mezzo-ish timbre which betrays her origins in that tessitura before she was fully trained.

I have also read complaints regarding the glassiness of the early digital sound but cannot say that it bothers me. There is the occasional discernibly clumsy splice, as at 3:56 in the “Così” aria, but otherwise I hear a good balance between voice and orchestra.

There is also a nice balance between the earlier and more conventional arias in Mozart’s output and the later, more innovative ones. Yes, I would have liked to hear her Countess and perhaps more of Ilia given that “Idomeneo” is such a notoriously difficult opera to cast satisfactorily but we must be grateful for what we have.

The slightly short duration reflects that this CD is a reissue of the original LP but we still have nearly fifty minutes of bliss.

Ralph Moore



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