The "Perfido!" (perfidious, malicious) theme of this album by English soprano Sophie Bevan is common enough for vocal recitals, but there is a parallel program going on that might be given the title "Oscurità." It consists of works that, except for Beethoven's Ah! perfido, Op. 65, at the end, range from surprises to genuine rarities of the classical period. Among the latter group are some real finds like O temerario Arbace... Per quel paterno amplesso, K. 79, composed by the nine-year-old Mozart in The Hague in 1765. Sample the aria, as its middle section prepares the return of the home key of B flat major: Mozart lingers on A, the second scale degree of the central section but the leading tone of B flat. It's just the kind of daring move a hotshot young composer might make, and it's entirely characteristic. The accompanied recitative preceding the aria also hints at the greatness to come. The very Mozartian Beethoven recitative and aria No, non turbati... Ma tu tremi, o mio tesoro, WoO 92a, seemingly written as an audition for lessons from Mozart when the teenaged Beethoven came to Vienna, is an equally interesting piece of juvenilia. Bevan proves herself one of the relatively small number of singers who can make Haydn's vocal music come alive, and the arias here contain passages that rest in Bevan's delightfully chesty low range. The Mozartists under Ian Page catch the dimensions of the music, and in all this recording gives a taste of how audiences hearing the young Mozart and Beethoven, or the mature Haydn, in their own time might have experienced them.
by James Manheim