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Carl Maria von WEBER (1786-1826)
Euryanthe (1823) [8.38]
Abu Hassan (1811) [3.32]
Preziosa (1821) [8.13]
The Ruler of the Spirits (1811) [5.39]
Oberon (1826) [8.48]
Jubel (1818) [7.46]
Der Freischütz (1821) [10.04]
Dresden Staatskapelle/Gustav Kühn
rec. March 1985, Lukaskirche, Dresden
CAPRICCIO SACD 71045 [66.16]


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Weber was at the forefront of the new musical romanticism, particularly in the style and field of German Romantic Opera. The ability of his overtures to capture the spirit of the operatic plots, often magically supernatural, that succeeded them, was just one of the reasons why his achievements in the theatre were so significant. It also contributed to the strength of the overtures in making their own way in the world as part of the concert repertory.

Even so early a piece as Abu Hassan (1811) confirms Weber’s genius, admittedly on the smaller scale. There is wit in abundance, pointed up with delightful rhythmic freshness. Here as elsewhere Gustav Kühn and the Dresden Orchestra, surely the most idiomatic of ensembles in this music, capture the mood to perfection. The quality of the playing is very fine throughout. 

In the more substantial numbers the challenges of interpretation are of course greater, but the performances still pass muster: Euryanthe and Oberon are excellent too. Undoubtedly the recording engineers deserve a share of praise for this. As so often with this company, however, the programme book might have benefited from a second view during the editing process. The notes are adequate enough, if rather slim, but the print, although not as small as it might be,  is set against a grey ‘designer’ background that impedes the reader’s ability to penetrate it.

The programme of overtures is strongly profiled in this collection, and while the intention cannot be for listening during a single sitting, there is a good balance between strongly established pieces and those that are less well known but also worthy of attention. For this reason above all, these appealing and well recorded performances can be enthusiastically recommended.

Terry Barfoot






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