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Magdalena Kožená displays no such limitations in her Monteverdi album, where her performance experience gives her a huge advantage. She really does live and die these characters, in particular her Octavia from L’incoronazione di Poppea, whose emotions flit through Kožená’s voice with emotional force. Her basic tone is a soft-grained mezzo, on the lighter side: but she is a fearless interpreter who commands a huge range of colours and dynamics and isn’t afraid to whiten her voice to an almost plaintive monotone or to push its natural vibrato to extremes; mannerisms perhaps, but I’d rather this than a more homogenised aproach. It’s not all high drama and she balances the more wrought emotions with some lighter and happier pieces. Kožená is abetted by Andrea Marcon’s leading of La Cetra, which is spirited and stylish. The playing is impressive, and Monteverdi’s dramatic effects are fully realised – the orchestral description of a galloping horse in Combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda is quite thrilling.

Francis Muzzu Read the full review on Agora Classica

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