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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Benchmark for this version, 26 Jan 2011
By 
maximus (England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Mozart: Idomeneo (Audio CD)
This has to be the benchmark recording of this Opera. One of Mozart's greatest works, quite stunning given the relatively young age he was when he wrote it. Full of dramatic as well as intimate moments, and John Elliot Gardiner brings out every ounce of emotion and drama as the work requires it. Anthony Rolfe Johnson as Idomeneo is unsurpassed. Just listen to his "fuor del mar" [track 15 disc 1] as an example. He is supported by such beautifully balanced cast of other singers, in principal and chorus parts, and to round it all off the English Baroque Soloists are the pinnacle of orchestra for bringing every phrase beautifully, balanced and poised when required and full and rich in the more dramatic scenes. I also recommend hearing excerpts such as the Overture (track 1 disc 1!) and the Chorus and Idomeneo in tracks 14-16 on disc 2 if you are not certain whether to buy or not. That should convince you!

However, musical prowess apart, I was disappointed that the most dramatic part (Eccoti nume il reo) where Idomeneo confronts Neptune with all the rasping trombones is quite tame in comparison to Nikolaus Harnoncourt's recording for that section and also Idomeneo's proclamation "Ingiusto sei" is much more effective in its anger in Harnoncourt's cast and leading man. Also Harnoncourt included all of the scenes that Mozart wrote into the flow of the opera, whereas the Gardiner version is the slightly abridged version (by Mozart himself for one of the original performance I believe) perhaps because this was a live performance which would have flowed better on stage perhaps.

Thus I have both and also a DVD performance with Philip Langridge as Idomeneo (at Glyndebourne with Haitink conducting, very full and impressive staging).
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Best for Rolfe Johnson above all, 26 May 2014
By 
Ralph Moore "Ralph operaphile" (Bishop's Stortford, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Mozart: Idomeneo (Audio CD)
My regular reader - both of them - will know that I am not amongst JEG's staunchest fans but credit where it's due: this is a fine rendition of Mozart's first properly mature operatic success, one whose stock has risen dramatically over the years since it began to be performed again in the 60's. Influenced by Mannheim and Paris, Mozart introduced a number of innovations and a new psychological depth into his music; this recording serves those improvements well even if it lacks what I must for want of a more precise term, call star quality; that you find in other recordings like the live 1978 Covent Garden performance under Colin Davis with Janet Baker, Stuart Burrows and Yvonne Kenny or the 1971 RAI broadcast, again under Davis with a young Jessye Norman and Heather Harper. However, the latter also has Nicolai Gedda as Idomeneo and I think Anthony Rolfe Johnson for Gardiner here has the edge over almost everyone else with his combination of heroic power and coloratura facility.

Gardiner does not perhaps find the drama in the music that Davis brings out and having a period band does not always help him to do so, but so much here is sharp and punchy that I am loathe to moan too much. Von Otter sings beautifully with the usual touch of blandness that I find is nearly always present in her singing; the same is true of the rather characterless but vocally secure Martinpelto. Sylvia McNair does not have to be quite so gung-ho in the passive, suffering role of Ilia and her silvery soprano is a delight.

Providing in an appendix the extra and alternative music Mozart cut out of the first Munich production to enhance dramatic coherence and pace is sensible and scholarly, although I might have countenanced restoring some of the best missing passages given that this is a recording and not a performance.

This is certainly amongst the best things Gardiner has given us and has done its bit to rehabilitate "Idomeneo"; it is also a fitting memorial to Rolfe Johnson, who died from Alzheimer's at only 70 years old in 2010; his "Fuor del mar" is superb.
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22 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic in every sense, 15 Oct 2000
This review is from: Mozart: Idomeneo (Audio CD)
As a student I was lucky enough to see this performance at the QEH in London and it remains one of the most special moments in the concert hall or opera house.
Gardiner takes one of Mozart's earliest and neglected works and together with his near faultless group of musicians produces a performance of sparkling intensity and musical brilliance that will be hard to match. Others, like Harnencourt, may have been there first but that version lacks the dramatic unity and frisson of ths version. From the opening overture Gardiner announces a performance of sweeping drama and emotional complexity that show this to be one of Mozart's finest works. The level of intensity never drops (possble only due to the live recording) and the singers match him. Anthony Rolfe Johnson sings as well as any tenor can, giving us every nuance of the title part. Anne Sophie Von Otter is equally excellent and Sylvia McNair as Ilia gives the best performance of her career. This is music making of the highest class - Mozart I think would have been proud.
If you want to know what I mean compre this with DG's other version directed by Levine with Domingo - lumpen, leaden and devoid of every charm that makes Mozart a gret dramatic composer.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great lesser-known Mozart opera, 1 Dec 2004
By 
Kurt Messick "FrKurt Messick" (London, SW1) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Mozart: Idomeneo (Audio CD)
The most popular of Mozart's operas range from 'The Marriage of Figaro' to 'The Magic Flute'; sometimes people will include 'The Abduction from the Seraglio' in that listing. Few extend the listing of great operas back to 'Idomeneo: King of Crete', but this is in many ways the logical starting point for observing Mozart's development as an opera composer.
As one scholar says, no two of Mozart's operas are alike -- while they share classifications and stylistic elements, they can each of them be considered sui generis in many respects. 'Idomeneo' was the first dramatic opera in Mozart's mature style; written while he was still in Salzberg, it attracted the attention of come in the musical court in Vienna. There are decidedly French qualities to 'Idomeneo', with influences apparent both in the composition and the anecdotal evidence from Mozart's contemporaries.
This particular piece includes a composite of most of Mozart's 1781 composition on 'Idomeneo', following a rediscovery of the original performance score. However, Mozart continued to edit the score, sometimes even in between performances one night from the next, so a 'standard' scoring is next to impossible to obtain on this opera.
The story is based on the ancient gods and goddesses, human frailty and foolishness, and, of course, love. Idomeneo makes a vow to sacrifice to the god Neptune should he be saved; he breaks his vow when it turns out his son will be the likely sacrifice. Meanwhile, Ilia, the daughter of Priam, king of the newly-destroyed city Troy, arrives as an already-tragic figure. Ilia falls for Idamante, son of Idomeneo, but is competing with the jealous Elettra, who does not wish there to be a Trojan queen of Crete. In the end, the gods will not be put off of their promised sacrifices, and while Idamante is saved, there is drama in unrequited love in several directions, and Idomeneo has to yield the throne in the end.
John Eliot Gardiner, conducting the Monteverdi Choir and English Baroque Soloists out of Queen Elizabeth Hall in London (1990), is one of the masters of classical music in the past generation. Anthony Rolfe Johnson is the lead as Idomeneo; Anne Sofie Von Otter sings the part of the young son, Idamante, in a part that might have been a castrati part in the past. Sylvia McNair is Ilia, Hillevi Martinfelto is Elettra, and Nigel Robson rounds out the major parts as Arbace, the king's advisor.
This live recording is a technical masterpiece, a bit thin in some pieces, but overall rather satisfying. Anne Sofie von Otter probably has the best overall performance here, but the others do a nice job as a group. There aren't many arias or parts for individuals to use to make stand-out impressions (that fault, if indeed it constitutes a fault, is the composer rather than the performers), as many are accustomed to finding in Mozart operas. The English Baroque Soloists are an interesting touch, but a fuller orchestra and scoring might serve better here.
Still, this is an Archiv production of Deutsche Grammophon, one of the leading lights in classical music recording.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Music made in heaven, 22 Jan 2014
By 
Ms. C. R. Stillman-lowe "Cathy SL" (Reading Berks) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Mozart: Idomeneo (Audio CD)
The CDs arrived in good condition, with just a tiny crack on one of the boxes. The music of course is absolutely divine. I would use this seller again without hesitation.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Caution: 2 Files are too long and won't play or copy, 23 Feb 2013
By 
J Pavel (London, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Music is great, but it's annoying, that when you buy the entire piece, that 2 files (tracks) are unusable

Shame
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gardiner's greatest success with Mozart's operas !, 3 April 2012
This review is from: Mozart: Idomeneo (Audio CD)
Gardiner has recorded all of Mozart's operas as far as I know. Based on the recordings I have heard by Gardiner, I think this set represents Gardiner's best conceived recording of any of Mozart's operas. It is a very insightful reading, the performances of the singers are uniformly excellent and the sound as well as the balance between voices and orchestra is as good as it gets. I think the authentic instruments approach suits this opera whereas I don't think it does in the case of Don Giovanni or Figaro for instance. In any case, this is a beautiful recording worth having.
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Mozart: Idomeneo
Mozart: Idomeneo by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (Audio CD - 1991)
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