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Nobody has done more to open our ears to the seeds of genius in the young Mozart than Ian Page, by the simple expedient of taking his early music seriously. Page’s conducting of Classical Opera can be hit-and-miss in concert but on record that frantic edge gets toned down and this massive project to record all Mozart’s operas is a trillion times more musically valuable than, for example, Sony’s folie de vanité with Theodor Currentzis. Still, three hours of any 14-year-old’s opera seria is likely to have its longueurs, and so it proves. Everything is very respectable: singing, playing, tempi, commitment – but it doesn’t catch fire. There is a certain ploddy-bass quality too much of the time (Mozart’s fault as well as Page’s), and certainly much of the music is standard-issue, perfectly OK but unexciting. What grabs the attention are the moments when Mozart already seems to transcend his models, with an emotional restlessness, a particular instrumental colour or a vocal line whose ultimate destination we can discern in the future.

Robert Thicknesse Read the full review on Agora Classica


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