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Early Romantic Overtures
Carl Maria von WEBER (1786-1826)
Oberon
(1826) [9:00]
Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847)
Die Hebriden
(The Hebrides), Op. 26 (1830) [9:55]
Hector BERLIOZ (1803-1869)
Les Francs Juges
, Op. 3 (1826) [11:41]
Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856)
Genoveva
, Op. 81 (1849) [8:28]
Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)
Die Zauberharfe
(The Magic Harp) (1820) [9:49]
Richard WAGNER (1813-1883)
Der fliegende Holländer
(The Flying Dutchman), WWV63 (1841) [9:40]
London Classical Players/Roger Norrington
rec. Abbey Road Studio 1, London, UK, November 1988
VIRGIN CLASSICS 9282742 [58:36]

Amongst the popular overture titles found on this Norrington disc are two that are generally forgotten today yet are certainly worthy of a place amongst the chestnuts. These are Les Francs Juges (Berlioz) and Genoveva (Schumann).
 
Roger Norrington has conducted a wide repertoire on disc and in particular is at home with these composers for whom he has recorded a lot of overtures. He uses to good effect his knowledge of authentic 19th century instrumentation which is a hallmark of the London Classical Players. This budget price re-issue with fresh couplings is aimed at the newcomer more than the seasoned collector, and so meets its intention admirably.
 
The orchestra play well and Norrington provides good readings. There is lot of sensitivity shown in the Oberon, particularly where the clarinet passage is emotionally expressive. Les Francs Juges has a firm introduction and then three minutes in brings in an unusually gushing theme with Mozartean characteristics. Although Die Zauberharfe is unknown by name, think of Rosamunde with its haunting melodies and you won’t go far wrong. This again is a good performance, with mellow woodwind, good emphasis and taken at an energetic pace. Der fliegende Holländer comes from the early period of Wagner where his compositions are more accessible to a general audience than his later works.
 
Technically, the recording leaves a lot to be desired: the wide acoustic provides a certain amount of bloom which although it flatters the brass and wind at times, the distant strings lack detail and the sound does not always do justice to the energy expended in the playing. In Der fliegende Holländer it is disappointing to find that the piccolo is unusually obtrusive in places to complement the level of the rest of the orchestra.
 
No notes are provided despite the space occupied by copious adverts for other CDs in the Red Line series.  

Raymond J Walker