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Customer Review

on 8 September 2010
Ian Page and his Classical Opera Company gave a not quite complete performance (there were cuts both in arias and recitative) of Gluck's early opera seria 'La clemenza di Tito' at St. John's, Smith Square in 2005. In January 2010 they returned to this composer at the Wigmore Hall with a selection of arias and scenes spanning most of his career. A recording of that concert is presented on this new disc. Ian Page called the programme 'an overview of Gluck's work ... demonstrating his dramatic flair and the visceral energy and haunting beauty of his music. I hope that it might stimulate further interest and enthusiasm for this important composer.'
Not much, however, of the qualities mentioned emerges here. There is in any case something inherently unsatisfactory about a concert made up of isolated excerpts from many different operas where it must be hard to bring out anything of the various characters and their dramatic situations, especially in the unfamiliar works. Apart from which the three young female artists performing here are accomplished and tasteful, but not really distinctive enough in tone or style to compare with others who have sung some of these pieces (whatever else may think of her Cecilia Bartoli in her disc of Gluck arias dealt a knock-out blow in each one). Nor does the orchestra make much impact in the recording, sounding as it does recessed and under-powered.
Lovers of Gluck will be grateful to hear the excerpt from 'La Semiramide riconosciuta,' the sweet pastoral duet from 'Il re pastore' and the highly dramatic scena from 'Telemaco' (music which reappeared in the later 'Armide' for the fury, Hate): these three operas are otherwise unrepresented on disc.
Judging from the applause included the audience enjoyed the evening in the hall, but all in all the disc gives only a rather muted impression listened to at home.
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