COMPOSERS: Max Weber
ALBUM TITLE: Weber Symphonies No. 1 & 2
WORKS: Symphonies No. 1 & 2; Bassoon Concerto, Op. 75; Invitation to the Dance, Op, 65 (orch. Berlioz)
PERFORMER: Karen Georghegan (bassoon); BBC Philharmonic/Juanjo Mena
CATALOGUE NO: CHAN10748
All these works are early, interesting mainly because Weber went on to write one great opera and two operas that contain many fine things but overall are failures. I think it is unlikely that we would hear the two Symphonies otherwise. As is pointed out in the notes, even Weber himself was scathing about them by the time they were published. The most striking feature in either of them is the abrupt ending of the Second Symphony, so utterly unexpected that Haydn himself never managed such a surprise – nor has anyone else in the whole orchestral repertoire. The Bassoon Concerto is eloquently played, but the most enjoyable item is Berlioz’s arrangement of the solo piano Invitation to the Dance: he manages both to be faithful to the composer’s spirit, and to be utterly himself in his brilliant orchestration. The performances are pretty astringent, Juanjo Mena persuading the BBC Philharmonic to play as if they were a period orchestra, with wiry lean string tone and rasping woodwind.