Brian Robins
Early Music Review

First released in 2007, this is the CD that introduced Ian Page's Classical Opera to disc. It offers a whirlwind traversal of Mozart's operas in chronological order, including extracts from no fewer than fifteen of the 22 (if unfinished works are included). Page, to my mind one of the most talented of today's younger British conductors, immediately announced himself with this CD as a natural Mozartian. Indeed, one of the chief pleasures is the juxtaposition of graciously phrased cantabiles—listen, for example to the line he achieves in the delectable 'Ruhe sanft' (Zaide)—and the dramatically incisive rhythms of an aria like 'Se vuol ballare' (Figaro), all splendidly played. The singing is more variable, with excessive vibrato a persistent problem; I suspect that there are some voices here that Page would not use today. I think, too, that he has developed his ideas on ornamentation since making this disc, the highlights of which include Klara Ek's charming 'Geme la tortorelIa' (La finta giardiniera) and, perhaps predictably, Susan Gritton's winning performance of 'Ruhe sanft', though her German diction could have been better. Of several ensembles in which Page shows himself capable of creating a satisfying balance, the quintet from Act I of Cosi fares best. As I've noted in these pages before, I'm never quite sure who this kind of CD is aimed at. Surely not those familiar with the operas, who will find being wrenched from one familiar dramatic situation to another disconcerting. Possibly it could serve as an introduction to a newcomer to what is arguably the greatest of all operatic canons? That it will do admirably.