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Carl Maria von WEBER (1786-1826)
Euryanthe Overture J.291 (1823) [8:31]
Peter Schmoll und seine Nachbarn Overture J.8 (1803) [10:00]
Oberon Overture J.306 (1818) [9:35]
Der Beherrscher der Geister Overture J.122 (1811) [5:43]
Turandot: Overture and Act II March J.75 (1809) [5:38]
Preciosa Overture J.279 (1821) [7:59]
Silvana Overture J.87 (1810) [6:18]
Jubel-Ouverture J.245 (1818) [8:02]
Abu Hassan Overture J.106 (1811) [3:30]
Der Freischütz Overture J.277 (1821) [10:15]
New Zealand Symphony Orchestra/Antoni Wit
rec. Wellington Town Hall, New Zealand, 13-15 July 2006
NAXOS 8.570296 [76:24]
Experience Classicsonline

Of particular interest in this collection of Weber’s uplifting overtures are those from Der Beherrscher der Geister, Turandot, Jubel and Silvana. Der Freischütz, Euryanthe and Oberon need little introduction.
Those overtures from the forgotten Weber operas have shed their obscurity in the opera house for favourite status in the concert hall. Following Beethoven and Mozart, Weber’s works for the stage were considered fresh, and seen to carry a blend of strong orchestral craftsmanship, coupled with inspired lyricism and this is evident from the overtures.
In the various recordings of popular Weber overtures one is often aware of the presence of either a ‘robustly mechanical’ or ‘sensitive’ reading. Here, the New Zealand orchestra under Wit engage in delicate contrasts of mood coupled with a bright and clear recording. This puts them in the same league as some of the more prestigious recordings.
This is the first time I have heard Abu Hassan played with such vitality and speed. This approach certainly adds spice to Weber’s bustling score. The warm wind section in a fine acoustic - against subtly balanced shimmering strings - provides real appeal in their rendering of Der Freischütz. The Turandot music was completely unknown to me. Its simple pipe opening comes across as particularly British yet it was written for Stuttgart in 1809. I find from the notes that the ‘folk music’ opening was Weber’s interpretation of the Chinese idiom!
The elegance of Preciosa is charming with contrast provided by the sedate introduction and the energetically dynamic central section with crisply defined first violins.
One may be surprised that the Jubel Overture ends with the British National Anthem. This work however was composed after the Battle of Waterloo and celebrated the 50th anniversary of the then King’s accession. Its majestic opening gives the necessary pomp and splendour.
Antoni Wit is an accomplished conductor who studied in Krakôw and works with the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra and with Polish Television and Radio. We remember his excellent interpretation of the Prokofiev piano concertos and later of the Messiaen Turangalila symphony in 2002.
The notes in English are fairly generous and give more than adequate background to the overtures.
Raymond J Walker


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