WORKS: Der Waffenschmied
PERFORMER: John Tomlinson, Ruth Ziesak, Boje Skovhus, Kjell Magnus Sandvé; Bavarian Radio Chorus, Munich Radio Orchestra/Leopold Hager
CATALOGUE NO: CAL 50 953/54 DDD
Other than on recordings, the comic operas of Albert Lortzing (1801-51) have never really established themselves outside the Austro-German orbit. His Der Waffenschmied (The Armourer of Worms) shows that this has been our loss. From the overture, with its bright fugato, and the opening anvil chorus (could this have been in Wagner’s ears when he wrote Siegfried?), this score is a real charmer, brimming with folksy melodies that satisfy anyone’s nostalgia for alt-Deutsch culture.
Musically this recording benefits from the clear, shapely conducting of Leopold Hager, an able Mozartean with a particular affinity for early German Romanticism. The choral and orchestral work are finely pointed and detailed and the cast is generally better than average, especially Ruth Ziesak’s silvery Marie, John Tomlinson’s warmly sung Stadinger and Boje Skovhus’s suave Count von Liebenau. The one fly in the ointment is the rather strained vocalism of tenor Kjell Magnus Sandvé as Georg. Editorially, the package will challenge non-German-reading listeners, for while Jürgen Schläder’s historic essay is offered in English translation, the libretto is in German only, and there is no plot synopsis. Barrymore Laurence Scherer