Il re pastore reviews

 

(Editor’s Choice, Gramophone)

“A superb set of soloists head up a quite delightful performance of Mozart’s early opera, under the inspired baton of Ian Page.”

Martin Cullingford, Gramophone
November 2015

“There have been some engaging recordings – Marriner (Philips), Harnoncourt (Teldec) and Wentz (Brilliant) – but it is hard to imagine hearing another performance as convivial and life-affirming as this. The Orchestra of Classical Opera play supremely well: each strand of the musical fabric in the concise Overtura is delineated joyously (especially the shaded horns). Ian Page’s unobtrusive pacing of the pastoral mini-drama and sage weighting of orchestrally accompanied recitatives pull the listener along gently, and each of Mozart’s perfectly etched ritornellos is articulated with impeccable balance and shap…

…The shepherd Aminta is brought to life scintillatingly by Sarah Fox… Ailish Tynan’s shepherdess Elisa sparkles sweetly, offering flawless technique and an endearing characterisation… all three soprano parts are sung with equal accomplishment but differentiated clearly. John Mark Ainsley’s Alexander the Great dispatches florid lines masterfully; the magnanimous conqueror’s description that storms and rainfall have given way to enlightened happiness (“Si spande al sole in faccia”) inspires the tenor to peal out his freshest singing on record for years.”

David Vickers, Gramophone
November 2015.
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(Disc of the Month, Opera)

“A major reason for the success of the series to date is the strong sense of ensemble Ian Page creates among his singers, with many of whom he works regularly. A striking illustration can be heard here in the final extended chorus with solos, one of the finest numbers in the opera. Beautifully paced and balanced, the ensemble is both directed and sung to near perfection. Although never remotely evoking her masculine persona, Sarah Fox makes an appealing Aminta, singing the role’s two big arias with, respectively, technical assurance and touching sensitivity. As Elisa, the object of her love, Ailish Tynan has an impressive command of coloratura…

As the secondary lovers both the soprano Anna Devin and the tenor Benjamin Hulett are excellent, the latter’s stylish Agenore being especially agreeable, while John Mark Ainsley brings all his experience to bear on Alessandro’s noble arias… another fine addition to this important cycle.”

Brian Robins, Opera
December 2015

 

*****

“Mozart’s delightful early opera comes up fresh as new paint in this fleet, beautifully-recorded new set. Fox and Tynan are perfectly matched young lovers and Ainsley is achingly moving as the old king. Orchestral playing is sparkling and pristine. This modestly-priced set now leads the field on CD.”

Classical Music
3 November 2015

 

“What Signum Classics’ and Classical Opera’s recording of Il re pastore offers is, simply put, an account of the piece that comes as near to perfection as any performance might ever hope to do…

…The Classical Opera musicians execute their parts with passion and precision, wholly sidestepping the pedantry frequently encountered in performances of music of this vintage…

…Classical Opera’s endeavors aim not at the manufactured authenticity born of conjecture and dry theory but at insightful interpretation of the clues interwoven among the ledger lines, and this is a recording of Il re pastore that educates by making carefully-considered decisions rather than apologies and excuses. For what could a performance such as this need to apologize unless it is for eclipsing all previous recordings of this appealing score?”

Joseph Newsome, Voix des Arts
January 2016.
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“It’s effortlessly entertaining when performed by such a classy cast… well-balanced, lively and affectionate.”

Andrew McGregor
BBC Radio 3 CD Review

 

“The whole thing – which, for completists, includes an extended, concert version of Aer Tranquillo as an appendix – sounds poised and elegant.”

Erica Jeal, The Guardian
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****

“[the] accomplished singers here negotiate the occasionally tricky music with fluency and poise… It is a rare delight that real ‘display’ cadenzas are improvised by the singers at all appropriate points, and that the orchestra is directed with commendable style.”

Anthony Pryer, BBC Music Magazine
January 2016

 

“Classical Opera is working its way through a project of recording all of Mozart’s operas. This is the first of them that I have come across, but I sincerely hope it won’t be the last. They treat this work seriously on its own terms, and they reveal its many beauties with a touch of love. The prime mover in the operation is conductor Ian Page, who also writes the scholarly booklet note; texts and translations are provided too. His choices of tempi always feel intrinsically right, and he shapes the sound with real affection for the material, avoiding any spurious comparisons with the later masterpieces. The orchestral sound is also superb, apparent right from the fizzing bustle of the Overture…

…Sarah Fox, who plays the Shepherd King himself, opens the opera with a lovely aria to the wandering brook, and demonstrates a richness and delight of voice that will characterise the whole recording…

…this is symptomatic of the extremely sympathetic reading that Page provides. A great success, this set is well worth checking out.”

Simon Thompson
Musicweb International

 

“Ian Page conducts Classical Opera in a buoyant performance. Sarah Fox, radiant in the lovely aria ‘L’amero’, Ailish Tynan and Anna Devin are nicely contrasted as the three sopranos, John Mark Ainsley and Benjamin Hulett nimble and expressive as the two tenors.”

Richard Fairman
Financial Times

 

“Ian Page’s sizzling account of the overture prepares for the delights to come as the overture segues flawlessly into the opening aria for Sarah Fox’s Aminta… the singing, like the playing, sounds absolutely authentic, there is a pleasing sense of freedom and a palpable joy in the music…

…Listening to this wonderful music so beautifully performed it is amazing to think of Mozart’s employers, who repeatedly failed to recognise the unique talent of the man who was supplying them with such sublime fare.”

D. James Ross
Early Music Review
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