ALBUM TITLE: Silvana
PERFORMER: Michaela Kaune, Ines Krapp, Ferdinand von Bothmer, Jörg Schörner, Detlef Roth, Andreas Burkhart, Simon Pauly, Tareq Nazmi, Marko Cilic; Rut Nothelfer (cello); Bavarian Radio Choir and Orchestra/ Ulf Schirmer
CATALOGUE NO: CPO 777 727-2
Unless you are a specialist in early Romantic opera, you are likely to think that Weber wrote three operas, of which Der Freischütz is the most popular. Actually he wrote several more, but the others are early works and rarely get performed. So CPO is doing yet another service in issuing this full recording, even if it is not an ideal one. I must congratulate them on still producing ample booklets with the full sung text, in German and English. This is yet another work cursed with spoken dialogue, which is not printed, so one only hears a stagey narrator or the odd character speaking, leaving non-German speakers in the dark. Not that there is much to interest one, anyway. This is the youthful work of an inexperienced composer, and it sounds it.
After a rather good Overture, well performed under Ulf Schirmer, the work alternates between hearty hunting choruses, folk-ish songs, and excursions into Italian-style coloratura. The heroine is dumb, and is confined to gesturing until the last scene of the opera. But that is only one of its peculiarities, and given that it lasts for almost two and a half hours, with only patchy moments of interest, I’m afraid that it tends to confirm my view that there are no neglected masterpieces. Michael Tanner