Il Giardino Dei Sospiri by Magdalena Kozena, Collegium 1704 and Václav Luks
Magdalena Kožená’s silvery mezzo soprano voice is a fascinating one: she possesses a bright upper register befitting a coloratura soprano, and a rich, penetrative depth throughout her range which allows her voice to resonate well above the orchestra, even when at a low pitch. Although Kožená began her career singing primarily baroque music, she has broadened her repertoire to encompass all sorts, from Mahler to the music of her Czech homeland to Cole Porter and beyond. For her first recording with audiophile label Pentatone, Kožená has returned to the baroque – a move she likens to ‘returning to my grandparents’ loft’ for its warming familiarity.
Under the baton of Václav Luks and accompanied by baroque ensemble Collegium 1704, in Il giardiano dei sospiri Kožená presents a program featuring scenes from 18th century secular cantatas. Some, such as Handel’s ‘Qual ti riveggio, oh Dio’ may be familiar, others may not. The aria ‘Ombre, cure, sospetti’ from Gasparini’s oratorio Atalia is dramatic with frequent and unexpected shifts in tempo, dynamic, and lyricism. Equally worthy of mention is Leonardo Leo’s bright, pastoral and at times suitably languorous ‘Or ch’é dal sol difesa’. A fine recording from one of the great mezzo sopranos of our time.