WEBER: Overtures (Euryanthe, Ruler of the Spirits, Abu Hassan, Jubel, Der Freischütz, Preciosa, Oberon) – Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by Wolfgang Sawallisch – EMI Classics

by | Jul 6, 2005 | Classical Reissue Reviews | 0 comments

WEBER: Overtures (Euryanthe, Ruler of the Spirits, Abu Hassan,
Jubel, Der Freischütz, Preciosa, Oberon) – Philharmonia Orchestra
conducted by Wolfgang Sawallisch – EMI Classics 5-75645-2 (52 mins.):

In its day, this was a recording of staggering audiophile proportions.
The time was 1958, the venue was Kingsway Hall in London, and the
program of Weber overtures reflected the golden age of EMI and the
Philharmonia under conductors like Sawallisch and Constantin Silvestri,
who were routinely, it seemed, making recordings combining incandescent
musical heat with sound of brilliantly wide dynamic range and power.

And Weber’s overtures are the perfect material for showcasing sonic
achievements, with their melodramatic, exotic (and occasionally
outlandish) visions, and their magnificent use of the classical
romantic palette in full bloom

The recording has in some ways outlived its reputation. The highs are
fiercer than they once were (or modern equipment less forgiving), and
the richness seems to have dissipated a bit. But there are countless
moments that demand attention: interior string trills and an unreal
piccolo shriek at the end of in Ruler of the Spirits; low strings
marching up the scale at the beginning of Jubel; the explosion after
the introduction in Oberon, to name just a few. Throughout, the brass
section projects its might with heroic power, and the timpani strokes
are breathtaking. Add to that Sawallisch’s urgent conducting and the
Philharmonia’s virtuosity, and you have an unforgettable blast from the
past.

– Laurence Vittes

 

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