Sir Colin Davis

Weber: Der Freischütz

LSO0726 2SACD

Weber: Freischutz

Weber: Freischutz

Track List

 

Disc of the Week BBC Radio 3 CD Review

***** ‘One of the marvels of his [Davis’] old age was the vitality he continued to bring to his music-making, combined with the wisdom of experience. Both are in evidence here, reinforcing Der Freischütz’s reputation as one of the most tuneful and psychologically profound operas in the repertoire.’ Financial Times (UK)

**** (max) Classica (France)

Sir Colin Davis conductor
Christine Brewer Agathe
Sally Matthews
Ännchen
Simon O'Neill
Max
Lars Woldt Kaspar
London Symphony Chorus


Weber's eerily fantastical Der Freischütz is heralded as one of the cornerstones of Romantic opera, being the first in operatic history to draw on traditional German folk tunes and elements of Romanticism. The evocative and colourful orchestration of the 'Wolf's Glen' scene, the most gruesomely expressive rendering of evil ever found in a musical score, is particularly impressive. Much of the music is instantly familiar: several of the melodies have been adapted as hymn tunes, and the Overture regularly appears in the concert hall. 

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Reviews

CD Reviews

Disc of the Week
‘Davis and the cast are absolutely bewitching in the dark magic of the Wolf’s Glen scene.’ BBC Radio 3 CD Review (UK)

*****
‘One of the marvels of his [Davis’] old age was the vitality he continued to bring to his music-making, combined with the wisdom of experience. Both are in evidence here, reinforcing Der Freischütz’s reputation as one of the most tuneful and psychologically profound operas in the repertoire.’ Financial Times (UK)

‘It is perhaps it cause for sadness that this Weber set has turned out to be the final opera recording of one of Britain’s greatest conductors, but it is equally a celebration of the late musician’s skills that this valedictory recording is given such a strong and sinewy reading – a touch steady, perhaps, but the tempi here help accentuate the rigour of the reading. And it is particularly welcome to note that the spoken dialogue — always tedious on repeated listenings – has been excised.’ Classical CD Choice (UK)

**** 'thoroughly useful recording' The Times (UK)

**** ‘Simon O’Neill is Max, the ‘free-shooting’ hunter of the title, and his rock-steady voice blazes like gold as it goes into his higher register. Christine Brewer is his lover Agathe, and although some of her top notes can sound very slightly grainy, the luscious warmth and impressive size of her voice is ample compensation. Sally Matthews brings an unusual variety and depth to the soubrettish role of Ännchen, Agathe’s friend.’ Sinfini Music (UK)

‘Recorded in April 2012 at London's Barbican, this live concert performance of Weber's Der Freischütz is a moving testament to the late Sir Colin Davis, as well as a thrilling performance in its own right, with top soloists: Christine Brewer in dramatic full throttle as Agathe, a pure-toned Sally Matthews (Annchen) and Simon O'Neill urgent and ardent as Max. Spoken dialogue is handled briskly. The chorus, especially in the Wolf's Glen, enthralls, as does the orchestra, rising to every challenge, urgent or lyrical, heroic or poetic. Davis, as ever, balances unrushed tempi with moments of raw excitement and aural extravagance, of which there are many in this early Romantic opera.’ The Observer (UK)

**** ‘his [Davis’] account of Weber’s score captures both its folkish ebullience and the Gothic horrors of the Wolf’s Glen scene.’ The Times (UK)

‘This release is a fitting tribute for a conductor who knew precisely what he wanted in term of expression and colour, and who was blessed by having an orchestra – the LSO (of which he had been both Principal Conductor and President) – that could deliver it.’ Classical Source (UK)

‘Weber’s beguiling score is full of rustic energy and vivid evocations of the natural world. The winning cast is headed by the tenor Simon O’Neill, who brings both heroic heft and Mozartean lyricism to Max. The luminous soprano Christine Brewer is wonderful as Agathe … The astonishing Wolf’s Glen scene, when Max enters a haunted realm of the forest, is Weber at his most ingenious and Davis’s performance captures the music’s ominous and magical allure.’ New York Times (US)

**** (max) Classica (France)

Performance **** Recording *****

‘The orchestral textures are pristine, the tempos and colours bracing and plaintive, with faultless work from clarinettist Chris Richards.’ BBC Music Magazine (UK)

‘Davis's passion is delivered magically from his baton to the orchestra and the soloists in this recording. Sopranos Christine Brewer and Sally Matthews are particularly stunning. Complete opera recordings are getting rarer these days, so when one comes out, and it's this good, it's something to be treasured.’ CBC Music (Canada)

‘The LSO Horns, in particular, are excellent throughout, and the overture is notably satisfying, with Davis drawing a memorably brooding atmosphere from all his players in anticipation of the dark deeds lying ahead.’ Opera (UK)

‘Not only does he provide simpatico support for his singers, Davis renders Weber's ingenious instrumental colouring with the gleam and novelty it would have had 200 years ago.’ New Zealand Herald

‘Listening to this live concert performance of Weber’s ghostly masterpiece is a welcome reminder of the virtues that kept this tireless musical advocate at the top of his game for 50 years.’ Limelight (Australia)

‘What is the innovative and the dramatic centre-point of this drama is the Wolf’s Glen scene - even today frightening in its eerie unreality. The other innovation is the symphonically conceived overture. Both are well knit with excellent playing from the LSO … Christine Brewer is an Agathe of exceptional beauty and poise … this last opera recording by Sir Colin Davis is worth acquiring for all admirers of this uniquely enticing conductor. A worthy memorial.’ Music Web International


Artists

Sir Colin Davis conductor
Christine Brewer Agathe 
Sally Matthews
 Ännchen 
Simon O'Neill
 Max 
Lars Woldt Kaspar 
London Symphony Chorus

Recording Details

2SACD / digital LSO0726 (822231172628)

James Mallinson
 producer
Jonathan Stokes & Neil Hutchinson for Classic Sound Ltd, balance engineers

DSD recording, live at the Barbican April 2012
Stereo and multi-channel 5.1

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