WORKS: Der Freischütz
PERFORMER: Endrick Wottrich, Matti Salminen, Luba Orgonasova, Wolfgang Holzmair, Gilles Cachemaille, Christine Schäfer, Kurt Moll; Berlin Radio Chorus, Berlin PO/Nikolaus Harnoncourt
CATALOGUE NO: 4509-97758-2
Nikolaus Harnoncourt brings a fresh view to everything he conducts. Now he has rethought the first great German Romantic opera, going back to the autograph score for the original dynamic markings and aiming to rediscover the work’s theatrical and dramatic truths. The result is both invigorating and enlightening. Harnoncourt’s choice to have a light-voiced tenor as Max, in order to convey the dreamer in the character rather than the hero, is entirely vindicated by Endrik Wottrich’s vibrant performance – superbly contrasted with the wonderfully sonorous Kaspar of Matti Salminen. Elsewhere, Orgonasova and Schäfer acquit themselves with distinction – the former’s ‘Leise, leise’, taken more slowly than usual, is exquisite – and the choral singing is superb.
Given the live concert source of Harnoncourt’s recording, it is not as overtly theatrical as its main modern competitor, the studio-bound Kleiber (DG), the difference being most notable in the Wolf’s Glen scene, where the latter is able to bring special effects and reverberation into play. The playing of the Berlin Philharmonic is easily the equal of Kleiber’s Dresdeners, though, and the Teldec sound is more natural, complete with ear-piercing gunshots. Matthew Rye