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Karl Böhm conducts Brahms & Weber
During the 1950s, Karl Böhm made a handful of orchestral recordings for Decca with the Wiener Philharmoniker of, music by, among others, Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms Schubert and Weber. The Brahms Symphony is performed with sweep and with classical poise and the music is clearly in the Viennese players’ blood (after all, they premiered the symphony in the Grosser Saal of the Musikverein, the very location where this recording was made). It receives its first international release on Decca CD. Weber’s star has, today, rather receded from our view, his name kept alive by but a handful of pieces. Yet he was, in some ways, a heralder of the dawn of the Romantic tradition and Böhm’s affectionate readings of these Overtures now reappear in the catalogue.
Recording producer: Victor Olof
Recording engineer: Cyril Windebank
Recording location: Grosser Saal, Musikverein, Vienna, Austria, May 1951 (Weber), June 1953 (Brahms)
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Romantic Overtures - Vol. 3
During the 1950s, 60s and 70s, Decca recorded a number of albums with some of its key conductors of Overtures. Many of these were singled out by the press for their terrific sound quality (the fabled ‘Decca Sound’) and for their often adventurous programming. Some of them also included entr’actes and intermezzi. Prized as collectors’ items, many of the original LPs exchange hands at high prices. And most of these reissues, in Decca Eloquence’s ‘Romantic Overtures’ series appear in CD, in part or whole, for the first time.
Romantic Overtures – Volume 3 features a conductor who recorded for Decca over a span of 36 years, from the 78 / early LP era (1949) to 1985: Karl Münchinger. Best known for his recordings from the Baroque and Classical eras, made mostly with ‘his’ Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra, he also recorded with the Vienna Philharmonic and made just one recording – of Schumann’s Manfred and Gluck’s Alceste Overtures – with L’Orchestre de la Suisse Romande (in 1954). Appearing on CD for the first time, they round off a 2CD set that includes, also for the first time on CD, Münchinger’s recording of Beethoven Overtures, as well as a remarkable recording ‘Romantic Overtures’ of music by Weber, Schumann, Schubert, Cherubini and Mendelssohn. Also included is Schubert’s Zauberharfe overture which appeared on Münchinger’s famous disc of the incidental music for Rosamunde.
“Played in deft, sprightly, light-handed and beautifully phrased style” Gramophone Magazine
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Although celebrated as the father of German Romantic opera, Carl Maria von Weber is today generally known for one opera alone: Der Freischütz. However the overtures of his other operas and music for stage plays have survived the test of time and are popular concert additions.
The present disc includes ten of these gems, from the overture to Weber’s first surviving opera Peter Schmoll und seine Nachbarn – composed at the age of fifteen – to that of Oberon, written in London for Covent Garden less than two months before his death from tuberculosis, aged 39.
The team of Jean-Jacques Kantorow and the Tapiola Sinfonietta have recorded numerous discs for BIS, by composers as diverse as Saint-Saëns, Mozart, Shostakovich and Rautavaara as well as Weber.
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Weber - Overtures & Bassoon Concerto
The Decca Ansermet Legacy on Eloquence continues to garner the highest plaudits from publications all around the world and the latest batch presents the maestro’s recordings of four key Austro-German Romantics: Schubert, Weber, Mendelssohn and Schumann. This CD brings together all of Ansermet’s Weber recordings for Decca.
Weber’s overtures possess an irresistible panache, being a perfect blend of popular and more highbrow styles. If his operas have proved largely unstageable, their overtures have maintained enduring popularity in the romantic orchestral repertoire. In fact, few were better equipped to distil the emotional and atmospheric essence of romantic lyric drama in terms of the orchestral overture than Weber. As Edward Dent once intimated, Weber never quite overcame a tendency to trump his vocal aces with an orchestral court card. But in the overtures he is the complete master. In them he spun poetic and intensely imaginative summaries of their ensuing dramas.
The British LP issue of the overtures omitted the Jubel (Jubilee) Overture, here restored to circulation on its CD reissue. The coupling, the composer’s Bassoon Concerto, features Henri Helaerts (1907-2001), the principal bassoonist of this orchestra for nearly fifty years. Helaerts was a very popular figure in Geneva, where he founded and conducted Les Cadets de Genève, a musical group comprised of generations of wind instrumentalists. He was one of the principal representatives of the French bassoon with its very characteristic sonority, sadly disappearing today.
"Ansermet is always successful with Weber's allegros by reason of his orchestra's lively playing and his own sense of buoyant rhythm… sheer pleasure, especially the sense of enjoyment in the playing of Preciosa and the remarkably deft performance of Abu Hassan, a piece notoriously difficult to play really cleanly. " Gramophone
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Weber - Overtures
Carl Maria von Weber composed a number of pioneering works for the operatic stage as well as incidental music whose highly attractive scores combine Classical principles of clarity with a unique lyricism and orchestral mastery that would inspire later Romantic composers.
This disc presents overtures from his ever-popular Der Freischütz, Euryanthe and Oberon, as well as from other undeservedly lesser-known operatic works, alongside concert pieces such as the Jubel-Ouvertüre and Der Beherrscher der Geister, and the incidental music for the plays Preciosa and Turandot, all of which amply display his vivid and refined dramatic imagination.
In a recent concert the Dominion Post praised the “superb playing” of the NZSO.
“…Antoni Wit has a genuine feel for the music, and the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra responds well throughout. Strongly recommended.” BBC Music Magazine, April 2009 ****
“Here are all six opera overtures, plus those for the incidental music to Preciosa and Turandot.
The Ruler of the Spirits and Jubel are independent pieces, the latter celebratory and ending with a terrific orchestration of the tune we know as 'God Save the Queen', the former one of Weber's most brilliant pieces, one that really ought to feature more as a concert-opener.
Antoni Wit goes at it with a will, and nimbly catches the good humour of the Abu Hassan overture, not least thanks to a lively oboe here and in Peter Schmoll. The orchestra also boasts a good horn section, very much called for in both Oberon and Der Freischütz. Peter Schmoll and Silvana are attractive examples of how early Weber began finding his voice as an orchestrator, in the case of Schmoll when still in his teens.
If only the sound were better, this would be an easy record to recommend. But as well as writing beautifully for wind, Weber makes demands on the richness and depth of the full orchestra and, especially in Euryanthe and Oberon, on the hurtling virtuosity of the strings. A crowded acoustic does not help clarity here, or in the busy figuration at the climax of Jubel. The seldomplayed Turandot, with its quirky little oriental tune that caught Hindemith's ear for his Weber Metamorphoses, fares rather better.” Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010
“Descriptive, colourful opera overtures - it's a pity that the sound isn’t better.” Gramophone Magazine, February 2009
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Weber: Piano Music Vol. 5
Overtures (arranged for Piano Four Hands)