Magazine article Gramophone

Weber: 'Complete Overtures'

Magazine article Gramophone

Weber: 'Complete Overtures'

Article excerpt

Weber [G] 'Complete Overtures' Overtures to Abu Hassan, Euryanthe, Der Freischutz, Oberon, Peter Schmoll, Preciosa, Silvana and Turandot. Der Beherrscher der Geister, Op 27. Jubel-Ouverture, Op 59 WDR Symphony Orchestra, Cologne / Howard Griffiths CPO (F) CP0777 831-2 (69' * DDD)

It might be easy to overlook this new CPO disc of all Weber's overtures. But it would be a mistake to do so, for what we have here is a recording that will have you tapping your toe along to this glorious music afresh. Howard Griffiths, the British conductor whose recent discography has consisted largely of lesser-known 19th-century works, brings thrillingly vibrant and lucid playing from Cologne's WDR Sinfonieorchester, which is captured in brilliantly clear and realistic sound by West German Radio's engineers.

Right from the very start the disc's virtues are apparent: the clarity with which one can hear the flutes shadowing the violins in the opening flourish of the Beherrscher der Geister Overture, for example, or the thrilling agility the cellos bring to their line half a minute in, or the skipping lightness to the contrapuntal passage starting at 2'45". It's worth noting that the sheer sound of the orchestral tuttis (the big chords ahead of the Freischutz Overture's final dash, at 7'40", for example) is also unusually exciting.

Griffiths, meanwhile, imbues each work with real urgency, which the orchestra match with virtuosity across the board (of many examples, sample the passage starting at 2'10" in the Silvana Overture), but, though the tempi are spruce, we never get any of the sense of hair-shirt stringency that I feel robs the music of warmth in the playing of the Tapiola Sinfonietta on the most recent rival collection. …

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