Weber: Der Freischütz

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Weber
LABELS: EMI
WORKS: Der Freischütz
PERFORMER: Walter Berry, Nicolai Gedda, Birgit Nilsson, Erika Köth, Dieter Weller; Bavarian State Opera Chorus & Orchestra/Robert Heger
CATALOGUE NO: CMS 5 65757 2 ADD Reissue
This 1969 Freischütz offers the kind of ‘Helden’ reading you’d expect (even Kuno sounds as if he’s come straight from Valhalla), but shorn of the delicacy of Kleiber, or Kubelík’s warmth. Gedda’s Max stands out: forceful, unstretched, on constant top form. Nilsson starts restrained, but after a while, the women’s scenes tend to overbear: Köth’s Ännchen is pinched; the trio assaults; Agathe’s ‘kindlich Herz’ grows increasingly matronly. Heger’s slowish pacings early on show benefits (Berry’s Kaspar gains definition), the chorus is good and his hermit almost frisky. Strings (short on nuance) revive after a ropily-stitched overture; the low brass sparkles, but the woodwind lacks colour. The Wolf’s Glen is enjoyably Fafneresque, with good spoken parts. EMI’s remastering copes well at high volumes. And you can hear how Weber’s opera swept Berlioz off his feet. Roderic Dunnett

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