Weber: Die drei Pintos (compl. Mahler)

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WORKS: Die drei Pintos (compl. Mahler)
PERFORMER: Robert Holzer, Peter Furlong, Barbara Zechmeister, Sophie Marilley, Eric Shaw, Alessandro Svab, Stewart Kempster; Wexford Festival Opera Chorus, Belarus National PO /Paolo Arrivabeni
CATALOGUE NO: 8.660142-43
Weber began to sketch Die drei Pintos (The Three Pintos) in 1820 while putting the finishing touches to Der Freischütz. But late the following year, with seven numbers drafted, he abandoned the score for the far more ambitious Euryanthe. And it was only in 1888, thanks to Gustav Mahler, that Die drei Pintos finally saw the stage. Besides orchestrating the entire score, Mahler composed linking passages and drew on other pieces of Weber’s for the missing numbers. The plot, a commedia del arte-style farce in which three men vie for the hand of Don Pantaleone’s daughter Clarissa, is jejune and lopsided. But while the music has its share of beery Gemütlichkeit, there are several vivid, entertaining numbers, including a catchy seguidilla duet, a comic trio where Pinto is given a crash-course in the art of seduction and a perky polonaise (Weber was always a dab hand at polonaises) for the maid Laura. Offsetting the prevailing brio and bustle, an occasional number strikes deeper – say, Clarissa’s tender aria ‘Wonnesüsses Hoffnungsträumen’ and her love duet with Gomez. Mahler invented no themes of his own. But his hand is unmistakable in the delicate, evocative scoring. The woodland music that begins the Entr’acte could have strayed out of one of the more innocent Wunderhorn songs. Naxos made this recording at last year’s Wexford Festival. And you’ll have to put up with lots of crashing and thumping, a sound picture that often muffles chorus and orchestra, and some approximate coordination between stage and pit. But Paulo Arrivabeni gets vigorous if rough-hewn playing from the Belarus orchestra; and the cast creates a lively sense of ensemble, with some of the best singing coming from bass Robert Holzer as Pantaleone, tenor Eric Shaw as an agreeably lyrical Gomez and the Ales Jenis, a ringing high baritone who scores a deserved success with the Wexford audience in his jolly Act III serenade. There’s a good note (from Michael Kennedy) and a just-adequate synopsis, but no libretto – especially frustrating in an unfamiliar work with so much German dialogue. Richard Wigmore