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Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Schon lacht der holde Frühling, KV580 [8:05]
Geme la Portobello – La finta giardiniera, KV196 [4:32]
Da schlägt die Abschiedsstunde – Der Schauspieldirektor, KV486 [3:54]
Voi avete un cor fedele, KV217 [6:50]
S'altro che lacrime – La clemenza di Tito, KV621 [2:26]
Durch Zärtlichkeit und Schmeicheln – Die Entführung aus dem Serail, KV384 [4:23]
Strider sento la procella – Lucio Silla, KV135 [3:52]
Vorrei spiegarvi, oh Dio... Ah, conte, partite, KV418 [6:28]
Motet: Exsultate, jubilate, KV165 [13:51]
Regula Mühlemann (soprano)
Kammerorchester Basel/Umberto Benedetti Michelangeli
rec. September/October 2015, Martinskirche Müllheim, Germany
SONY CLASSICS 88985337582 [54:23]

On Sony, Swiss-born soprano Regula Mühlemann has released her debut solo album of arias by Mozart, a composer she greatly admires. The recital contains five opera arias, three concert arias and the much loved motet Exsultate, jubilate. It is fascinating how Mühleman has included arias sung by seconde donne as well as those for the prima donnas.

Mühlemann, who I will expect be a new name to many, was born in 1986 at Lucerne and studied at the conservatory there. She made her opera debut with the Lucerne Theatre. Steadily making a name for herself, the soprano has sung in world-renowned opera houses in Paris, Zurich and Vienna. Notably in 2012 Mühlemann sang in Peter von Winter’s opera Das Labyrinth at the Salzburg Festival.

With this release of Mozart opera and concert arias, Mühlemann has entered the territory that has in the last couple of decades produced a number of excellent albums, notably from sopranos Renée Fleming/Decca, Anja Harteros/RCA Red Seal, Sandrine Piau/Naïve, Patricia Petibon/Deutsche Grammophon, Marina Rebeka/Warner, Diana Damrau/Virgin Classics and Sabine Devieilhe/Erato.
It is a delight to hear Mühlemann’s wonderfully poised, vividly clear and bright voice displaying a top register that really shimmers. There is little in the way of risk-taking displayed in the performances and thankfully her pinpoint precision and steadfast technique do not come at the expense of character. My highlights begin with S'altro che lacrime from La clemenza di Tito, with Mühlemann communicating an aching sadness with her markedly smooth tone. Irresistible is the glorious showpiece aria Vorrei spiegarvi, oh Dio! beautifully rendered with an authentic sense of engagement from the soprano. The striking oboe part is ravishingly played by principal Matthias Arter. From Lucio Silla, Mühlemann excels with a convincing portrayal of the squally aria Strider sento la procella. Impressive too is the much loved motet Exsultate, jubilate which Mozart originally wrote for a castrato; the work draws inspired signing of beauty and reverence from Mühlemann. Kammerorchester Basel under the direction of Umberto Benedetti Michelangeli plays with a splendid buoyancy that just exudes freshness.

No problems whatsoever with the recording from Martinskirche Müllheim, which is clear with a satisfying balance between soloist and orchestra. In the booklet there are helpful liner notes by Dr. Karl Böhmer. Provided too are texts and translations in German and English but curiously not provided are the sung Italian and Latin texts. Only fifty-four minutes is short measure for an album, a factor which I can let go on this occasion owing to the special quality of the performances.

This joyous release from Regula Mühlemann is a remarkable achievement and can take its place alongside the finest solo Mozart soprano recital albums.

Michael Cookson

Previous review: Göran Forsling



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