Written for Milan when Mozart was 14, this ambitious opera seria, based on a play by Racine, is often considered by scholars to be a turning point in the composer's teenage career. Although tiresomely prolix and somewhat relentless in its grandstanding vocal exhibitionism, it certainly shows his fast-developing confidence: the first scenes are much duller and more conventional than the later ones, which in arias such as "Lungi da te" and "Pallid' ombre" contain flashes of the maturity and originality of ldomeneo.
What the opera entirely lacks, however, is any sense of dramatic pacing and psychological differentiation or the command of ensemble technique that so enriches the mood and characterisation of the later collaborations with da Ponte.
This excellent recording is probably the one that Mozart completists will want to have: it contains not only unflaggingly stylish virtuosic singing by Barry Banks (Mitridate), Miah Persson (Aspasia), Sophie Bevan (Sifare) and Lawrence Zazzo (Farnace) but also a useful compendium of seven previously unrecorded arias and a duet "jettisoned or adapted before the first performance". The supporting soloists are also first rate, and Ian Page and the Orchestra of the Classical Opera company provide exemplary accompaniment throughout.