Maria von WEBER (1786-1826)Overtures: Euryanthe, J.291 (1823) [8:31]; Peter Schmoll und seine Nachbarn, J.8 (1803) [10:00];
Oberon, J.306 (1826) [9:35]; Der Beherrscher der Geister, J.122 (1811) [5:43];
Turandot: Overture and Act II March, J.75
(1809) [5:38]; Preciosa, J.279 (1821) [7:59];
Silvana, J.87 (1810) [6:18]; Jubel-Ouvertüre, J.245 (1818) [8:02]; Abu Hassan, J.106 (1811) [3:30]; Der Freischütz, J.277 (1821) [10:15] New Zealand Symphony Orchestra/Antoni Wit rec.
Wellington Town Hall, New Zealand, 13-15 July 2006. DDD.
It is good to have a new collection of Weber overtures, especially
at budget price, when such collections are less common than those
of, say, Rossini. If not as brilliant as those, they are scarcely
less worthy of exposure in their considerable variety.
collection has completeness in its favor, even if some of the
performances have been bettered elsewhere. Only Euryanthe,
Oberon, and Der Freischütz are usually found in
diverse overture collections, while the other works here offer
many delights, too. The performances, overall, are very good,
though one could ask for the warmer strings and more burnished
horns in Oberon and Der Freischütz that other,
more famous ensembles have provided. Particularly accomplished
here are the accounts of Preciosa, Abu Hassan,
and the Turandot excerpts. Wit brings out the humor,
or should I say “wit” in Abu Hassan well, and Preciosa
is also a joy. It is fun to hear the Turandot Overture and
March in its original guise, since Paul Hindemith’s treatment
of this music in his Symphonic Metamorphosis of Themes by
Weber is probably more familiar to many listeners. Weber
just repeats his “oriental” theme numerous times, whereas Hindemith
really makes something jazzy and innovative out of it in his
wonderful scherzo movement in the Symphonic Metamorphosis.
I recall a disc of Weber overtures by the Philharmonia and Neeme
Järvi, including the Turandot music, that coupled them
with the Hindemith work — a very clever idea that hasn’t been
done since. Even more rarely recorded are the overtures to Peter
Schmoll und seine Nachbarn, Der Beherrscher der Geister,
and Silvana. It is good to have them here. Then there
is the Jubel Overture that concludes with “God Save
the King”, heard somewhat more frequently than some of the
others. As whole, this is a worthwhile collection.
is up to the usual high Naxos
standard, and the notes are clearly satisfactory. I should,
however, discuss the recorded sound. Part of the impression
of the strings’ lack of warmth or depth I believe lies with
the recording itself. It is interesting to compare this disc
with a recent Sibelius collection on Naxos
by the same New Zealand Symphony, but under a different conductor
in a different venue. That recording leaves absolutely nothing
to be desired in terms of performance or sound. It is recorded
in the Michael Fowler Centre in Wellington, while this was done at the WellingtonTown Hall.
This could very well account for the impression of brightness
at the expense of warmth here, which suits some of the overtures
better than others, rather than laying the blame at the feet
of the conductor. Antoni Wit has given us many great recordings
of a broad spectrum of repertoire, but mostly with Polish orchestras.
He seems well suited to Weber, too, bringing out the classicism
and spirit of these overtures if at times shortchanging the
Romantic elements. I don’t want to make too much of this or
of the sound. Overall I am happy to welcome this collection.
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