WORKS: Overtures: Euryanthe, J291; Peter Schmoll und seine Nachbarn, J8; Oberon, J306; Der Beherrscher der Geister, J122; Turandot – Overture and Act II March, J75; Preciosa, J279; Silvana, J87; Jubel, J245; Abu Hassan, J106; Der Freischütz, J277
PERFORMER: New Zealand SO/Antoni Wit
CATALOGUE NO: 8.570296
This CD contains just about every overture Weber composed, so in addition to the three familiar masterpieces – Der Freischütz, Euryanthe and Oberon – we get such pieces as the fine Der Beherrscher der Geister (Ruler of the Spirits) in Weber’s most dramatic D minor vein; the Jubel Overture, ending with a grandiose orchestration of the tune we know as ‘God Save the Queen’; and the miniature Turandot Overture, based on the same tale by Carlo Gozzi that later fired Puccini’s imagination.
The last of these pieces uses a curious ‘Chinese’ melody that continually takes the wrong harmonic turn. No wonder Hindemith had such fun with it in his Symphonic Metamorphoses on Themes by Weber.
These are in the main first-class performances, very well recorded, and there’s no doubt the disc is a real bargain. This isn’t the most fiery performance of the Freischütz Overture you’re ever likely to hear, and perhaps the toy fanfares in the introduction to the Oberon Overture, which Weber wanted played as pp as possible, aren’t quite light enough – partly because timpani have been added (Mahler’s revision?) to the original scoring of this passage; but Antoni Wit has a genuine feel for the music, and the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra responds well throughout. Strongly recommended. Misha Donat