Karina Gauvin: "Mozart Arias"
Les Violons du Roy, Labadie. Texts and translations. ATMA Classique ACD2 2636
It's not every soprano who can make an experienced listener hear Susanna's famous recitative "Giunse alfin il momento," from Le Nozze di Figaro, with fresh ears, but that is precisely what soprano Karina Gauvin accomplishes. Her distinctive, yet perfectly appropriate phrasing opens up a unique thought progression for this character, whom we've been watching trick her husband for more than two hundred years. Gauvin's subsequent "Deh vieni, non tardar" is no less irresistible, and she continues this personal approach with all the arias here. The hint of straight tone she gives to "Ach, ich fühl's" drives home Pamina's utter desolation. Her pianissimo iterations of the phrase "So wird Ruh' im Tode sein" become an intimate confession, and just when you think she can't get any softer, the final phrases of the aria diminish to a stunningly sad finish. The warmth of the returning orchestra only underlines the depth of her loss. The concert aria "Ch'io mi scordi di te?" is as dramatic as those plucked from Mozart's operas, and Gauvin imbues every question and response with weight and passion. The same goes for "Misera dove son," in which Gauvin employs an entire rainbow of colors to express the sensation of being torn apart by misery. "Non più di fiori," Vitellia's rangy rondo showpiece from La Clemenza di Tito, spends a fair amount of time in the rich middle of Gauvin's voice, but her lowest chest tones are, admittedly, underpowered by comparison. She integrates those notes more successfully in "Come scoglio," which manages simultaneously to be ferocious and a thoughtfully considered argument. Bernard Labadie and the boldly classy Violons du Roy achieve the perfect balance between supporting Gauvin and taking the spotlight.
JOANNE SYDNEY LESSNER
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