Cosí Fan Tutte [HMC901663.65] Gens, Fink, Güra, Boone, René Jacobs & Concerto Köln

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Cosí Fan Tutte [HMC901663.65] Gens, Fink, Güra, Boone, René Jacobs & Concerto Köln

Cosí Fan Tutte [HMC901663.65] Gens, Fink, Güra, Boone, René Jacobs & Concerto Köln
Classical, Opera | EAC APE+CUE | 4CD/1.13GB |'s Best of 1999

Too long considered an erotic trifle, this masterpiece of psychological insight is on a par with Shakespeare's bittersweet comedies. The keen, witty direction of René Jacobs brings us a magnificently bracing, but never fussy, period-instrument interpretation. And the bonus CD-ROM allows you to explore the context and character of Mozart's opera in fascinating detail.

However the characters of Così fan tutte behave, interpretations of the work certainly belie its title ("They're All Like That"). And this is one of the most bracing, exhilarating new recordings of a Mozart opera to come along in a while. Here you won't find any of the self-conscious uptightness that mars too many period-instrument undertakings. Rather, the attention that René Jacobs and his performers lavish on "historically informed" Mozartean style is as gloriously revealing as the brightened contours of a freshly restored fresco. Just take the startlingly crisp attack in the overture's first bars: it announces what will prove an unfailingly energetic, tart, and witty approach to Mozart's score, and one with an ultimately moving payoff. The Concerto Köln–including some giddily inventive accompaniment on period pianoforte–plays with hair-trigger precision and stints neither on the ironically winking nor the elegiac moments. Jacobs has assembled a superlative, stylish cast, from Pietro Spagnoli's mordantly cynical Alfonso to Véronique Gens's winning way with the high-flying opera seria poses struck by Fiordiligi. Most importantly, this cast forms a true ensemble: there is incandescent sotto voce singing in the Act I farewell scene, while at the end of the opera the antics boil over into a scene of poignant reconciliation. Finally, this set includes a bonus interactive CD-ROM crowded with information about the opera's structure, background, and interpretation, all of it engagingly presented. This is a package no lover of Mozart should miss.

Thomas May,

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