MOZART Idomeneo Gardiner 4316742

Magnificently cast with Rolfe Johnson and anguished Idomeneo and von Otter a profoundly moving Idamante, this is one of Gardiner's finest recordings.

. . . Mozart . . . created a breakthrough work. Loosening the strict formal conventions of opera seria, he reaches deep into the emotions of his mythical characters. Period instruments and wholehearted choral singing add biter to John Eliot Gardiner's intense, characterful recording.

Here's a performance that blends this conductor's love of scholarship with an unerring sense of theatre . . . And for once this Trojan Princess is a flesh and blood woman and not a tinkling soubrette . . . Hillevi Martinpelto is Elettra, the bad girl of the piece, and wonderfully bad too here with cascading coloratura on her final demented aria. The English Baroque Soloists are magnificent . . . John Eliot Gardiner's is the vision that drives this magnificent recording.

An engulfing theatrical experience, with a superlative chorus and orchestra and a fine cast . . . ideally poised between the lyrical and the heroic . . . [Gardiner's] trademark mix of scrupulous scholarship and theatrical excitement shines through every bar. While the hieratic scenes of Act 3 have all the gravitas you could wish for, Gardiner makes the opera a profoundly human drama . . . thrilling . . .As the stricken king, Anthony Rolfe Johnson rails magnificently in "Fuor del mar", and distils a chastened serenity in his valedictory "Torna la pace". Anne Sofie von Otter, in glowing voice, gives Idamante's Act 1 arias an unusually introspective cast; Silvia McNair is the most limpid [Ilias] . . . Hillevi Martinpelto catches the pathos within Elettra's vengeful fury, and finds a lyrical grace for her momentary dream of bliss.

. . . the definitive recording of Mozart's early masterpiece for a long time to come . . . thoroughly authentic in the best sense . . . thrilling music-drama . . . Gardiner's reading is in almost every respect profoundly satisfying . . . this is a taut, raw, dramatic reading, yet one that fully allows for tenderness and warmth . . . Sylvia McNair sings Ilia's grateful, sensuous music with eager, fresh tone and impeccable phrasing . . . the interpretative honours go to Anthony Rolfe Johnson's deeply felt, mellifluously sung and technically assured Idomeneo and to Anne Sofie von Otter's ardent, impetuous, and in the end touching, Idamante . . . the playing of the English Baroque Soloists is as accomplished and fluent as ever and the balance of the very immediate recording between them and the soloists is just right . . . those who want the full Idomeneo story and a profoundly satisfying musical experience must have this . . .