Mozart, Così fan tutte, J. Watson, D. Montague, T. Spence, C. Maltman, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, C. Mackerras
(released on April 29, 2008)
Mackerras has a generally fine cast, especially on the male side, with the ardent tenor of Toby Spence's Ferrando and the robust baritone of Christopher Maltman's Guglielmo balanced by the veteran weight of Thomas Allen's Don Alfonso. The women are led by the vivacious Lesley Garrett as a witty and slightly zany Despina, against whom Janice Watson and Diana Montague seem a little nondescript as Fiordiligi and Dorabella, respectively. The OAE sounds gorgeous and full of colors, especially in the woodwinds (so important in this orchestration), led with a sprightly hand by Mackerras. Other HIP touches include the use of a fortepiano to accompany the recitatives (although the critical edition indicates "cembalo" -- or harpsichord), as well as ornaments for the singers transcribed from an 18th-century source (now in the Fürstenberg Library in Donaueschingen).
Another argument against recommending this as a reference recording is that it does not include the complete score, making the usual cuts in most staged performances (Don Alfonso's Vorrei dir, e cor non ho, the Ferrando-Guglielmo duet Al fato dan legge, Ferrando's aria Ah lo veggio -- although the OAE certainly has the basset clarinet called for in that piece -- and some parts of the recitatives). Guglielmo also sings Non siate ritrosi, as is customary, instead of the more difficult Rivolgete a lui lo sguardo Mozart originally composed as the opera's fifteenth number, deciding to cut it before the premiere.