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How spoiled we are for great mezzos, and Coote is one of the most treasurable. There is some perfect singing on this disc – and the rest isn’t bad too. She sets out her stall with ‘Quando mai’ from Radamisto (jollity isn’t the plat du jour) and her qualities are immediately on show: the effect lying in a certain occluded quality, the subtlest shades of tone, the sense of an unguarded vulnerability – a voice that wears its heart on its sleeve. There is no showy emoting: everything here from the heartwracked ‘Scherza infida’, neurotic ‘Where shall I fly?’ to the sensuous, troubled legato of ‘Mi lusinga’, the happy coloratura of ‘Con l’ali di costanza’ and heroics of ‘Sta nell’ircana’ is done with art rather than histrionics. Actually this latter, despite a blazing accompaniment from the English Concert, is not her forte – others have more martial fire – and ‘Dopo notte’ sounds over-studied and under-joyful. Harry Bicket’s conducting is workmanlike, with nice touches like the da capo of ‘Scherza infida’ where barely-there voice and instruments are sheer musical grief.

Robert Thicknesse Read the full review on Agora Classica

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