on 11 May 2008
Available as just one more volume in the Philips Mozart edition, I suspect that this recording tends to be overlooked in favour of the venerable (Kleiber, Guilini, Karajan etc) or the up-to-the-minute "authentic" bandwagon members (Eliot-Gardiner, Jacobs). This is a rich and beautifully paced version without a single weak link in the cast. Colin Davis had a long and happy association with the BBC orchestra by this point and they play better for him than many more glamorous and expensive outfits have done since. The vital harpsichord-supported recitatives are wonderfully crisp and dramatic in the gifted hands of John Constable. The outstanding cast have voices that are so distinctive in timbre (surely not accidental) that their interplay in the many wonderful ensembles make them effortless to follow. Try listening to the glorious terzetto (Act Two No.14) in which the Countess tries to deflect threatened disaster from the suspicious Count while Susanna comments in the wings. The distinctive hard-toned Vixell (rather uningratiating in Davis's "Don Giovanni") is perfect here as the Count, while the silvery-voiced Freni and the creamy tones of Jessye Norman's Countess weave around him and one another. This succeeds in being both dramatic AND beautiful. Indeed the perfect way to describe the whole experience of listening to this fantastic recording. If you are not in tears by the time you reach the extraordinary Finale then you need to visit a Doctor, because a vital organ has gone missing. In fact, I think I'll go and play it again!