German Overtures = MENDELSSOHN, WEBER, NICOLAI, MARSCHNER, WAGNER – Vienna Philharmonic/ Christian Thielemann – DGG

by | Nov 27, 2005 | Classical CD Reviews | 0 comments

German Overtures = MENDELSSOHN, WEBER, NICOLAI, MARSCHNER,
WAGNER – Vienna Philharmonic/ Christian Thielemann – DGG 474 5022 (71
mins.) ***:

This is what record companies used to turn out with satisfying
regularity, a recital of popular German Romantic overtures that tests
the mettle of the issuing label’s recording achievements and the
interpretive standards of their top artists. Because of the deeply
atmospheric and ultra dramatic nature of the music, these recordings
allow sound systems to test their abilities to reproduce instrumental
color, dynamic range, orchestral weight and use of space.

Recorded in the fall of 2002 in the Wiener Musikverein, Christian
Thielemann and the VPO play the program with obvious affection and
occasional glory (in Nicolai’s wonderful overture to The Merry Wives of
Windsor, they get the energy and spirit exactly right), together with
the lovely bloom of the Romantic era, may satisfy many listeners not
interested in either the kind of earth-shaking performances Furtwängler
or Karajan routinely gave. Plus, the rarely-recorded Marschner overture
to Hans Heiling is a very attractive bonus.

Overall, however, there is little that is special here as far as the
music-making goes, although the Vienna Philharmonic plays gorgeously at
times (the divided strings at the beginning of Oberon, and almost
everything in the Nicolai), and with DGG’s help, they bring out a lot
of detail that is often not heard. But there is nothing particularly
urgent here, the big kettledrum thumps at the end of Euryanthe reside
too far in the background, the big theme in The Hebrides sounds
mundane, and there is little sense from the conductor of cumulative
architectural impact. Good liner notes by Karl Dietrich Gräwe.

– Laurence Vittes
 

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