RECENT: Find out about composers from unusual places, including Gerard Schurmann, Giya Kancheli, Nazib Zhiganov and Nodar Gabunia, about singing in cars, and meet Jim Hutton from the RLPO and some of our regular contributors in this eighty-minute February 2021 video.
Considered to be the father of German opera, Carl Maria von Weber (1786-1826) was not only a composer, but also a conductor, pianist, guitarist and indeed, a critic as well. He was one of the first important composers of the Romantic School and, although he died aged forty, his corpus of works is significant, if not copious. Indeed his catalogue includes operas, concertos, symphonies, chamber music, piano works, songs and sacred choral works. His orchestration and gift for melody are highly praised, and later composers such as Berlioz and Debussy remarked that the sound of the Weber orchestra was obtained through the scrutiny of the soul of each instrument.
His operas influenced such great opera composers as Marschner and Meyerbeer, and Wagner was passionately in love with Weber's stage-works. His music even left a mark on the twentieth century and Stravinsky, Mahler and Hindemith among others have only praise for this humble yet highly inventive composer. Of all his operas, only Der Freischutz has retained a certain popularity. Oberon, his last work, and Euryanthe get only occasional stagings; the rest, apart from their overtures, are totally forgotten.
Listen — Weber: Overture (Euryanthe Act ?)
(CD1 track 1, 4:58-5:57) © 2019 Capriccio Records :
This latest recording of Euryanthe is indeed timely, as its respective discography is scandalously lean, as are its performances, which have been few and far between. Premiered in Vienna on 25 October 1823, the work is acknowledged as one of Weber's most important operas. It is the only one that the composer succeeded in finishing himself, and the first in which he broke new ground by adopting a musical approach without the interruption of spoken dialogue. The main reason for its neglect is the weak libretto by Helmina von Chezy, an amateur writer, whose story has many moments of confusion which make the plot hard to follow. Still, despite this obstacle, Weber was able to write music of the utmost beauty, punctuated by some truly dramatic orchestration, stirring choruses and memorable arias and duets.
Listen — Weber: So weih' ich mich den Rachgewalte (Euryanthe Act II Scene 1)
(CD1 track 20, 0:00-0:51) © 2019 Capriccio Records :
I think Robert Schumann's judgement on the piece does not need further comment: 'A chain of glittering jewels from beginning to end. All witty and ingenious.' Recorded live at the Theater an der Wien in December 2018, this rare foray into Euryanthe's realm has many things going for it, not least some highly charged emotional singing, felicitous and lush playing, and the ensemble and choral pieces are brought off with panache and precision.
Listen — Weber: Hin nimm die Seele mein! (Euryanthe Act III Scene 2)
(CD2 track 24, 0:08-1:04) © 2019 Capriccio Records :
Trinks marshals his forces with affectionate enthusiasm, and his devotional love of the score is only too evident in his great attention to detail, bringing to light all of Weber's imaginative gifts. Do not bother about the goings on; just let your hair down and immerse yourself in this wondrous ocean of melodic breezes. Unmissable for all genuine opera lovers.
Copyright © 22 December 2019