Weber: Der Freischütz

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

WORKS: Der Freischütz
PERFORMER: René Kollo, Hildegard Behrens, Peter Meven, Helen Donath, Raimund Grumbach, Wolfgang Brendel, Kurt Moll, Hermann Sapell; Bavarian RSO & Chorus/Rafael Kubelík
CATALOGUE NO: 443 672-2 ADD Reissue
Mataci´c’s finely disciplined 1967 Berlin reading of Der Freischütz soon gets too taut: the arias begin to plod. His strings are agreeably springy, his woodwind nicely plain, and much detail is well handled. But his orderly chorus sounds muffled, and his opening – compare Colin Davis on Philips – funereal (Kubelík opens with punch after a Brucknerian Overture). RCA’s bullet-casting sound effects are tidier than Decca’s, making the scene itself dramatically surer-footed (neither, incidentally, is it as witty as Kleiber or as profound as Jochum, both on DG).


Kubelík’s assets include gorgeous strings and brass (to rival Kleiber’s Dresden team); plus Kollo’s Max – frankly jaded by the last Covent Garden revival, but in stupendous Heldentenor form here (1979). His ‘Durch die Wälder’ leaves Schock trailing. The trio benefits too (the girls paired fairly well on both).


It’s Donath’s Ännchen who grabs the Act III laurels, for neither Agathe can match the way Janowitz floats ‘Ob die Wolken’ for Kleiber. But while lesser parts let Mataci´c down (his Ottokar, Claudio Nicolai, is a joy), Kubelík’s are strong. Frick’s obscenely buffo Kaspar would delight his fans; but Meven’s sinuous, varied young villain, beautifully spoken and awesomely sung, completes a duo to challenge Schreier and Adam on DG. Decca’s spatial sense is an added bonus. Roderic Dunnett