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Exsultate!

In Classical Music, Opera, Review on November 28, 2014 at 2:10 pm

Review – Miah Persson (Wigmore Hall, Wednesday 26 November 2014)

The Orchestra of Classical Opera
Ian Page (Conductor)

Joyous.

Simply the best description of this recital by soprano Miah Persson and the Orchestra of Classical Opera conducted by Ian Page.

I’ve long admired Miah Persson. She is an exemplary performer, investing both intelligence and passion into her performances combined with flawless technique. Her early recording of Mozart arias – Un moto di gioia – remains a favourite of mine. Fast-forwarding to today, her soprano has now developed a warm, burnished tone and depth, with a pleasing vibrato but with absolutely no loss of flexibility, brightness nor range.

Ms Persson is an instinctive Mozartian and her Exsultate, jubilate was joyous. Clarion-clear diction was matched with real investment in the – albeit – religious words. And taken a quite a zip under the baton of Ian Page, Ms Persson not only skillfully negotiated the sometimes tricky coloratura but ensured it remained knitted seamlessly to the entire piece rather than simply being bravura for bravura’s sake. Indeed, I am not usually a fan of this motet as it is often over-performed, but last night at Wigmore Hall I rediscovered its charm, simplicity and overall beauty.

Despite having written one of my dissertations at university on Haydn’s opera even I admit that his stage works, on the whole, have moments of greatness rather than greatness overall. The strength of Haydn’s operas for me is the marriage with his symphonic prowess and “alternate” world view of the form.

That’s not to say however that I wouldn’t love to see them performed with more regularity and Ms Persson made a very persuasive case.

Her flawless vocal control brought incredible poise and heightened emotion to the first aria, Navicella da vento agitate from Il marchese which was echoed in the third selection written twenty-five years later, Aure chete, verdi allori from Orlando Paladino. But it was in Amore nel mio petto from Lo speziale that allowed Ms Persson to display her dramatic talents in communicating the character’s indecision. And she was perfectly complemented by the delicate playing of principal oboist James Eastaway whose resonant tone perfectly balanced the vocal opulence of Ms Persson.

Indeed, she was accompanied throughout by the excellent players of The Orchestra of Classical Opera throughout. And in the two symphonies that book-ended the concert they shone with enthusiasm, precision and verve. With its opening slow movement, harking back to an earlier era, they effortlessly switched from the intensity of the opening movement of Haydn’s Symphony No. 21 to the moto perpetuo of the ensuing Presto. Then Ian Page and his players found that rustic charm that is often so present in the composer’s minuets of this period before launching with full-blooded confidence into a vigorously rhythmic Finale.

Mozart’s Symphony No. 29 is one of my favourites and perfectly balanced the Haydn in terms of emotional intensity. I love the contrapuntal yearning that Mozart weaves throughout the opening movement, the elegiac Andante with its sonorous wind writing, the rusticity of the minuet and trio and then vigour of the final movement. And just as in the Haydn, The Orchestra of Classical Opera played each and every note as if their lives depended on them. Simply invigorating.

So if you haven’t already, book your tickets for Classical Opera’s exciting 2015 Season but the most wonderful thing about this particular evening? That Wigmore Hall has recorded the entire performance for their own label and our continued enjoyment.

The release of this disc cannot come too soon.

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