Carl Maria von WEBER (1786-1826)
Overtures: Der Beherrsher der Geister [4:48]: Turandot, Prinzessin von China [4:11]: Abu Hassan [3:27]: Der Freischütz [8:29]: Oberon [8:26]: Euryanthe [7:21]: Peter Schmoll und seine Nachbarn [8:22]: Preciosa [7:32]: Silvana [5:32]: Jubel [7:03]
Tapiola Sinfonietta/Jean-Jacques Kantorow
rec. May 2006, November 2009, Tapiola Hall, Espoo, Finland
BIS-SACD-1760 SACD/CD [67:35]
BIS Downloads available from http://www.eclassical.com
At first sight this may look like yet another set of “the Weber Overtures” such as used to be a staple of the LP market. In fact it is much more than that. For a start it manages to include no fewer than eleven works, so that for once those to the three mature operas do not swamp the fascinating and varied earlier works. More important, they receive performances and recordings that approach them from an unusual angle. One of the chief characteristics of Weber’s music is its febrile, tense, quality. This can all too easily be lost when conductors emphasise its relationship to later German romantic opera. Here on the contrary the emphasis is on the almost Berlioz-like speed of musical thought, as well as on Weber’s ability to produce individual orchestral colours that almost rivals the great Frenchman.
It must help having an orchestra of an appropriate size and character for the music. There is no list of players but thirty-nine appear in the photograph on the back of the booklet. Such a size works well, having sufficient weight of strings for the more dramatic passages but retaining lightness of touch where needed. The actual sound of the orchestra as recorded here is clear without being harsh, and delightfully transparent. Repeatedly in listening to the earlier overtures I found myself thinking of Weber’s slightly later French contemporaries, Auber and Boieldieu, as well as of his earlier contemporaries including Mozart, in terms of the sheer vivacity and variety of his inspiration. The Overture to “Peter Schmoll und seine Nachbarn” can sound all too easily stodgy and over-long, but it is neither here. The character of each of the other early overtures is similarly brought out to the full. At the same time the three later and best-known examples do not lack their essential dramatic effect and their deeper and darker colours are brought out to the full. All in all this is a very distinguished collection which avoids any hint of the routine.
A very distinguished collection which avoids any hint of the routine.