• Tolstoy's Anna Karenina is a masterwork of 19th Century literature; a parable on the struggle for personal freedom against the conventions of a hostile society, played out in a tragic love-story. With a libretto by the distinguished director Colin Graham after the novel by Leo Tolstoy, David Carlson's opera vividly captures the drama and message of the original work. This double-disc set is a world premiere recording of the opera, with commanding performances from members of the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis and the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra conducted by Stewart Robertson. There is a lot to admire in this dramatic, expressive scoreOpera Now Magazine
  • An unforgettable live-concert recording, selected from the Philharmonia Orchestra and Esa-Pekka Salonen’s season of works by Béla Bartók – 'Infernal Dance.' As soon as Salonen cues the score's reptilian first bars, just after the one-minute mark, you can sense both a tightening of tension and Salonen's natural grasp of Bartok's richly suggestive tone-poetryGramophone As dazzling as you always hope it will be... A truly atmospheric recording that makes it easy to believe you’re in the dark bowels of a castleBBC Radio 3 Record Review The conclusion of the opera is riveting, vocally and instrumentally, with the live performance giving a real edge to the drama ... for Esa-Pekka Salonen and the Philharmonic on top form this is fantasticPlanet Hugill This 2011 performance of Bartok's score is sure to become a classic  ... The hour passes like a single breathWords and Music
     
  • Britten’s powerful and masterful evocation of the North Sea in all its moods has to audiences all over the world become inextricably linked with the Aldeburgh that was home to George Crabbe (author of the ‘The Borough’ from which the story originates) in the eighteenth century and Britten in the twentieth.
    Steuart Bedford leads a vast and accomplished ensemble on this new live recording, created shortly before the group’s unique staging of the work on the beach at Aldeburgh as part of the town’s world-renowned festival. The mix here is imperceptible and the sound unobtrusive; engineer Mike Hatch deserves a credit twice the size and conductor Steuart Bedford pulls off an extraordinary feat of coherence and endurance. But it’s Oke who makes the case for Peter Grimes and steals the show. There used to be two great Grimes on record: Peter Pears and Jon Vickers. Now there are threeSinfini Music
  • For You

    £18.00
    For You is a new opera that brings together the music of composer and BBC Radio 3 presenter Michael Berkeley and Booker-prize winning author Ian McEwan. This gripping tale of love, lust and obsession centers on the composer and prodigious womanizer Charles Frieth (Alan Opie), and the tragic consequences that his selfish actions cause him and those around. Although essentially dark, there are moments of irony, wit, and humour throughout the opera. Soaring vocal lines, intricate ensemble pieces, and imaginative instrumental writing make this an electrifying work. Masterly performed by Music Theatre Wales, directed by Michael Rafferty.
    The music, conducted here by Michael Rafferty, is energetic, deftly coloured and carefully balanced, allowing the excellent voices, including Alan Opie’s Frieth, to make their due markThe Sunday Times It bristles with wit and lyricism, while giving other composers and librettists a lesson in how to drape operativ tradition in modern clothesThe Financial Times Berkeley’s score is lively, abrasive and strongly crafted … the performance (recorded live) is focused, with excellent orchestral playing and a strong central performance by Alan Opie -  The Daily Telegraph
  • Continuing their complete Mozart opera recording cycle, The Mozartists’ latest release shines a light on two early opera works by Mozart. Grabmusik was reported to be the product of a test set by the prince of Salzburg, who: “... not crediting that such masterly compositions were really those of a child, shut him up for a week, during which he was not permitted to see any one, and was left only with music paper, and the words of an oratorio ... During this short time he composed a very capital oratorio, which was most highly approved of upon being performed.” Performed for Holy Week the title can be translated as ‘Cantata on Christ’s Grave’ (literally ‘Grave Music’), and the anonymous text takes the form of a dialogue between a tormented soul, who is desperately lamenting the tragedy of Christ’s death, and an angel. Bastien und Bastienne is the only one of Mozart’s operas to have been written for performance in a private house rather than a theatre. Commissioned at some point in mid-1768 by the renowned and controversial German physician Franz Anton Mesmer, it tells the tale of two young shepherds, Bastien and Bastienne, being reconciled in love by the fortune teller and magician Colas after Bastien has briefly been lured away by the attractions of a noble lady from the city. This new recording uses Mozart’s original 1768 setting of the libretto by F. W. Weiskern & J. H. F. Müller, the provenance of which was only established in the 1980s. The orchestra is the star of the show - BBC Music Magazine Ian Page and his crack team are clearly having a lot of fun, which comes across in this excellent recording. It's a treat to experience - Gramophone Page’s Classical Opera project goes from strength to strength - The Sunday Times If you are looking for a superb performance of one of Mozart’s young productions then this is very much the best place to invest - Music Web International A little jewel not to be missed! - Crescendo (France) Heavenly! - Stretto (Holland) Ian Page's subtle and dynamic gesture makes all the difference, and places his musical output among that of the best Mozartian interpreters of today - Classique News (France)
  • London Early Opera perform a unique programme of Handel’s Italian-inspired works, devised by conductor Bridget Cunningham and featuring a unique family collaboration from from world-renowned soprano sisters Sophie Bevan and Mary Bevan alongside their uncle, bass Benjamin Bevan. Editor's Pick: This is as polished an account as any on account of Sophie Bevan's unerring sense of decorum for what each movement requires Gramophone The quality of the musicianship is highBBC Music Magazine A dazzling disc from the Bevan siblingsThe Observer An enjoyable showcase for Mary, Sophie and Benjamin Bevan - The Sunday Times A pleasant compilation, showcasing the considerable vocal talents of three of the Bevan familyEarly Music Review
  • Classical Opera continue their continuing complete Mozart opera recording series with the one-act dramatic serenade Il sogno di Scipione, K. 126. Composed in 1771 as a celebratory homage to Prince Archbishop Sigismund Schrattenbach of Salzburg, the Archbishop died before the piece could be performed. In the spring of 1772 Mozart amended the work so that it could be used in honour of Schrattenbach’s successor, Hieronymus Colloredo – the only necessary change was to alter the name of the dedicatee in the nal recitative. The story of Scipio’s Dream takes place in c.148 BC, while the celebrated Roman general is a guest in the palace of his ally Massinissa, King of Numidia (in modern day Tunisia). As Scipio falls into a deep sleep, he dreams that the allegorical figures of Fortuna (Fortune) and Costanza (Constancy) appear to him in Elysium and demand that he should choose one of them to follow for the rest of his days. ★★★★★ The singing, indeed the general musicianship throughout, is really good - Classical Ear ★★★★ This is a rewarding set, gracefully paced… An impressive achievement - BBC Music Magazine ★★★★ Provides another fascinating insight into the compositional skills of the young Wolfgang and comes up to the high standards we have come to expect from Ian Page and his groupiClassical ★★★★ The virtuoso arias demand singers of agility, which Classical Opera's cast, headed by tenor Stuart Jackson, supplies in abundance. Ian Page is the lively conductor - Financial Times ★★★★ An engaging and fully dramatized reading of the music… Page brings fluency and character to their generous instrumental introductions and succeeding vocal displays - Classical Source Ian Page presides over a charming performance, with well-paced recitatives and appropriate, sometimes extravagant decoration. This is minor Mozart, done supremely well - Gramophone Not for the first time in this series I find myself returning in the final analysis to Page’s direction of his outstanding orchestra… beautifully nuanced and balanced playing - Opera Magazine
  • Rising star-soprano Elena Xanthoudakis is joined by the Royal Northern Sinfonia under Richard Bonynge in these exhilarating performances of some true Jewels of the Bel Canto aria tradition by Bellini, Verdi, Rossini and Donizetti.
  • The prodigious Norwegian treble Aksel Rykkvin returns to disc on Signum with a new disc of Baroque works, accompanying the MIN Ensemble under trumpeter Mark Bennett and the ensemble director Lazar Miletic. Featuring both instrumental pieces and excerpts from operas and oratorios by Handel, Rameau, Albinoni and Rittler, this disc further documents Aksel’s unique talent as a performer and interpreter of Baroque music. Rykvin's polished technique and confident musical personality yield a lovely account of Télaire's lament Gramophone Vocal maturity, superb tuning and breath control are quite outstanding - Cathedral Music Magazine A thoroughly enjoyable collection and those that appreciate Baroque music will be thrilled by what is on offer - Cross Rhythms Light Divine further documents Aksel’s unique talent as a performer and interpreter of Baroque music. A mustNorthern Echo
  • Classical Opera continue their series of Mozart Operas on Signum with Mozart’s Mitridate, re di Ponto, K. 87 (74a). As well as the complete opera, this 4CD digipak release includes a bonus disc featuring the original versions of a number of arias from the opera that Mozart subsequently changed in the final version.
    This splendid achievement, a genuine rival to Christophe Rousset's star-studded 1999 Decca version, is given added documentary value by the inclusion of a fourth CD containing the original versions of eight arias the teenage Mozart changed at the behest of his castOpera Magazine Nobody has done more to open our ears to the seeds of genius in the young Mozart than Ian Page, by the simple expedient of taking his early music seriously - Opera Now This performance is as committed and engaging if you could wish for; the hours – almost four if you include those extras – fly by. It’s almost budget price as well with essay texts and translationsBBC Radio 3 Record Review Ian Page nurtures a performance that crackles, beguiles, thrills and moves by turns exactly as Mozart's opera requiresGramophone This excellent recording is probably the one that Mozart completists will want to haveDaily Telegraph
  • Classical Opera continue their recording cycle of the complete operas of Mozart with Il Re Pastore – a youthful work that shines with the richness of its orchestration, its inexhaustible melodic inspiration and its dazzlingly ingenious score.
    Disc of the Month: 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...beautifully paced and sung, the ensemble is both directed and sung to near perfectionOpera Magazine Effortlessly entertaining...so much zip and zest from the playersBBC Radio 3 CD Review Classical Opera [treat] this work seriously on its own terms, and they reveal its many beauties with a touch of loveMusic Web International Performed with energy and spirit by Ian Page and his lively forcesThe Sunday Times Wonderful music so beautifully performedEarly Music Review Mozart's delightful early opera comes up fresh as new paint in this fleet, beautifully recorded new setClassical Music Magazine It is hard to imagine hearing another performance as convivial and life-affirming as thisGramophone
  • The Mozartists present an unprecedented survey of Mozart’s childhood stay in London from 1764-65. The wide-ranging programme includes Mozart’s remarkable first symphony (composed when he was eight years old), along with his two other London symphonies and his first concert aria. The repertoire also explores music that was being performed in London during Mozart’s stay, including works by J. C. Bach, Thomas Arne, Abel, Pescetti, Perez, George Rush and William Bates, many of which have not previously been recorded. The album features an outstanding line-up of soloists comprising sopranos Ana Maria Labin, Anna Devin, Rebecca Bottone, Martene Grimson and Eleanor Dennis, mezzo- soprano Helen Sherman, tenors Ben Johnson and Robert Murray and harpsichordist Steven Devine. The album was recorded live during a weekend of performances at London’s Milton Court in February 2015 as part of the opening season of MOZART 250, and includes over a dozen world premiere recordings. Presto Classical's Top 100 Recordings of 2018 This ingenious “musical exploration of Mozart’s childhood visit to London” interweaves three early symphonies and the concert aria K21 with music performed in the city during the family’s stayThe Sunday Times Vigorous vocal music by Thomas Arne, a dazzling harpsichord concerto from JC Bach, and a Carl Friedrich Abel symphony as tastily rich as a chocolate éclairThe Times Ian Page with his handpicked orchestra of around 20 players, is a dab hand at this sort of stuffClassic FM Page draws lively and engaging performances from his orchestra, and the results certainly charm, whilst the programming ensures that there is much of interest as it illuminates musical life in 1760s London so wonderfully - Planet Hugill As ever, Page draws lively and engaging performances from his orchestra, and the results certainly charmThe Epoch Times
  • A fascinating musical journey through the Italian arias of Mozart, from one of his earliest works Lucio Silla (composed when he was just 16) through to his final Italian opera La Clemenza di Tito. The English tenor Jeremy Ovenden has established himself as being among the best Mozart tenors of his generation (notably in the role of Don Ottavio) and has become a familiar figure on the stages of the world's opera houses and concert halls and at major festivals. He is joined for this, his first solo recording, by the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and conductor Jonathan Cohen. The fine tenor … sings with an engaging commitment to these joyous creations. A delightful selection - The Observer A most imaginative idea … his rhythm, diction and easy flexibility of voice are exemplary - The Sunday Times ★★★★  Ovenden proves complete master of his chosen repertory … for its artistic use, and for the close partnership Ovenden achieves with the OAE under Jonathan Cohen, l have only admiration - BBC Music Magazine
  • The first release in a new partnership between Classical Opera and Signum Records begins with Mozart’s remarkable sacred singspiel Die Schuldigkeit des ersten Gebots, composed when he was just eleven. The music is full of tender beauty, dynamism and descriptive flair, and the young composer’s innate sense of understanding and sympathy for the human condition already shines through.

    The story follows the efforts of The Spirit of Christianity (Andrew Kennedy) – aided by Divine Justice (Cora Burggraaf ) and Divine Mercy (Sarah Fox) – to win back the heart of a Lapsed Christian (Allan Clayton) as he lies fast asleep. In opposition to this however stands The Spirit of Worldliness (Sophie Bevan), who urges the Christian to forget what The Spirit shows him and to follow her pleasure-seeking philosophies. As Justice and Mercy withdraw to observe, The Spirit of Christianity seeks to win back the lapsed Christian, but will this lost soul be able to resist the temptations of indulgence and short-term satisfaction that Worldliness offers?

    After listening to this recording of such a rarity, I began to wonder whether this work has ever had a finer performance than this one. We'll never know what Mozart's original team sounded like, but he'd have been lucky to have assembled a team as skilful, well balanced and neatly contrasted as this oneMusicWeb International
  • Purcell’s ever-green chamber opera Dido & Aeneas, its story drawn from Virgil’s epic, the Aeneid, is performed by the Armonico Consort with an astounding selection of soloists. Armonico Consort is one of the largest and most innovative organisations of its kind in the UK, existing to inspire audiences with its unique programmes. ★★★★ Lithe, colourful, tastefully phrased and dynamically astute playing...[the cast] sing compellingly and inhabit their roles with the same sensitivity that distinguishes the whole performanceThe Daily Telegraph
    A clean, uncluttered account featuring crystalline voices, good diction, safe tempos and well-defined phrasing...vocal ensembles are luminous and the instrumental playing is bright and streamlined. Best of all is Rachael Lloyd's dignified Dido, rich-voiced, poetic and flawlessly deliveredThe Guardian The Armonico Consort and its musical director, Christopher Monks, capture this abundance of inspiration in a performance full of life and variety...Rachael Lloyd's dignified Dido and Elin Manahan Thomas's bright Belinda are well contrastedFinancial Times This small-scale version of Purcell's evergreen masterpiece has much to commend itEarly Music Today
  • If it were not for the operas of Gioachino Rossini, the operatic repetory of the mezzo soprano would lack some of its most interesting characters and music. Silvia Tro Santafé proves herself a true ‘Rossini Mezzo’ in this collection of scenes and arias, accompanied by the excellent Orquesta Sinfónica de Narvarra and Lluís Vich Vocalis. This voice is one fine instrument, at times as luxuriant as rippling grey silk, at others glinting like flexible metal, always thoroughly enjoyable as pure sound - Opera Magazine A most impressive recital - The Gramophone Tro Santafé's unique vocal qualities illuminate the music with fresh colors and interpretive accents … this is an excellent disc that more than stands up to the competition - MusicalCriticism.com