Camilla Tilling sings Gluck and Mozart Arias
It is extraordinary to think that a generation or two ago Gluck’s tragic heroines were being sung by sopranos such as Kirsten Flagstad and Maria Callas. Times have changed: Camilla Tilling makes a good case for programming arias from Armide and Iphigénie en Tauride alongside the contemporary Mozart roles of Ilia, Susanna, Countess and Fiordiligi. By and large her selection works well.
The disc opens with the Overture to Idomeneo, played by the period-instrument Musica Saeculorum under Philipp von Steinaecker with a grandeur more usual from a conventional orchestra. Ilia is one of Tilling’s favourite roles and she sings two of the arias, ‘Padre, germani, addio’ and ‘Zeffiretti lusinghieri’, with a silvery grace, enlivened by the occasional hint of a fast vibrato. Her Susanna and Countess are nicely differentiated, the latter’s ‘Dove sono’ touchingly inward at the reprise. She has said that she was nervous about progressing up to Fiordiligi but ‘Come scoglio’ is where this disc takes off with a newly urgent sense of drama, and ‘Per pietà’ makes a virtue of her lightness of voice (the first Fiordiligi, Adriana Ferrerese del Bene, was also an early Susanna).
Of the Gluck, the most engaging is the intensely felt ‘Che fiero momento’ of Eurydice, a role Tilling has portrayed notably on stage. It is good to have Armide’s Act 2 aria, ‘Ah! Si la liberté’, and she is suitably affecting in it, though other sopranos have given the music greater depth of colour. The same might also be said of ‘O malheureuse Iphigénie’, which brings the recital to a dignified close. Everything here is well judged and sympathetically sung, if only more characterful voices from the past – Margaret Price’s Countess, Régine Crespin’s Iphigénie, perhaps the Fiordiligi of Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, more of an acquired taste – did not keep intruding from one’s memory.