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It is in the miracle of the trio Soave sia il vento (Fiordiligi, Dorabella, and Don Alfonso) that it truly becomes clear that with Immortal Performances one can appreciate this for the moment of genius it is, particularly the harmonic shift at (disc 1, track 17).The added steel to the string sound in the Scala version, plus the impression of crowding when the voices enter, effectively spoils the effect.
It is worthwhile comparing the transfers of his La mano e me date from act II: immensely pleasurable in the Immortal Performances version, rather dull of sound in the Scala.
His nobly delivered Tutti accusan le donne is wonderful (and just listen to Alvas enthusiastic repetition of the operas tagline title, Cos fan tutte).
The strings in the Scala version are harsh, especially the first violins, making the Immortal Performances by far the more comfortable for listening.
When the voices sing together, the sound in the Scala set tends to buckle under the pressure, whereas the Immortal Performances is altogether a gentler experience.
The real triumph in the Immortal Performances issue lies in the truth of the reproduction of the voices.
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The act II duet between Fiordiligi and Ferrando, Fra gli amplessi, for example, offers some of the sweetest-toned singing one will experience anywhere.
MOZART Cos fan tutte Guido Cantelli, cond; Elisabeth Schwarzkopf (Fiordiligi); Nan Merriman (Dorabella); Graziella Sciutti (Despina); Luigi Alva (Ferrando); Rolando Panerai (Guglielmo); Franco Calabrese (Don Alfonso); Ch & O of Piccola Scala IMMORTAL PERFORMANCES 1083-2 mono (2 CDs: 1) Live: Piccolo Scala, Milan 1/27/1956 Colin Clarke FANFARE magazine September / October 2017 Tragedy strikes with no pity in tow, and so it was with the cruelly curtailed life of Guido Cantelli, Toscanini protg (the older man never was told that his musical son pre-deceased him) and incendiary genius.
Cantellis perfectionist demands on his performers are the stuff of legend; many readers will, without doubt, be familiar with Laurence Lewiss book Guido Cantelli: Portrait of a Maestro published in 1981, which I seem to remember (I have long since mislaid my copy) contained a discography.
Detailed booklet notes with a variety of essays on the genius that was lent to us for such a cruelly short time, Guido Cantelli, complete a release of vital importance.
Whether one looks at this release in terms of historical document regarding Piccolo Scala, of Cantelli himself or of a simply brilliant performance of Cos, this set must be classed as one of the jewels in Immortal Performances crown.