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Weber: Oberon / John Eliot Gardiner


Release Date: 08/09/2005 
Label:  Philips   Catalog #: 4756563   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Carl Maria von Weber
Performer:  Katherine FugeMarina ComparatoFrances BourneJonas Kaufmann,   ... 
Conductor:  John Eliot Gardiner
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Monteverdi ChoirOrchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 2 Hours 3 Mins. 

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This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.

Notes and Editorial Reviews

A work that might have been written for Gardiner and his ORR: he brings such tremendous theatricality to the piece that it can't fail to have a real impact. His cast is, characteristically, assembled from strength with splendid individual performances. Once again, the magnificent Monteverdi Choir are on top form, singing with a punch and power that never ceases to amaze (and win Awards!).

In the opera, Sir Huon has only to blow his magic horn (if he can find it) and Oberon will come to the rescue. On stage, the opera itself stands much in need of a similarly magical way out of its many problems. The fairy world of A Midsummer Night's Dream is crossed with medieval chivalry, romantic aspiration and a setting of Arabian Nights.
Read more The scene is forever changing, and the musical idiom shifts from the purest moonshine (foretelling Mendelssohn) to the kind of cosmic grandeur that later spelt Wagner. In the original version, spoken dialogue keeps up the dramatic pretence, but that's all it is, for the characters and situations have little chance of gaining even the credibility of suspended disbelief.

In this version, as at last year's Edinburgh Festival, the spoken dialogue is removed and a narrator's voice substituted. It works well (better than at Edinburgh) because the speaker can use a quiet, intimate, storyteller's voice, and we probably find it easier to accept this as a convention than to acquiesce in an attempt to make theatrical realism out of it. In this form, too, we listen without distraction to the music, and find ample delight in that.

The famous overture isn't typical, still less 'Ocean, thou mighty monster', the soprano's equally famous aria. The distinctive idiom of Oberon lies more in its choruses of elves and elemental spirits, and in numbers like the Quartet in Act 2 and the charming duet for Fatima and Sherasmin. Depth of feeling is there in Huon's prayer and Rezia's cavatina (the heroic element of the 'big' solos somehow less germane). But altogether a good performance - such as this is - leaves little doubt that the work deserves its revival: and it would be, surely, a very resolute purist who could entirely banish the stark biographical facts. The premiere took place at Covent Garden on April 12, 1826, and by May 30 Weber was lying dead at Great Portland Street.

The immediate rival (the strongly cast 1971 Kubelik set - DG, 12/91 - is no longer listed) is under Marek Janowski. Gardiner is more poetic, the fairies lighter on their feet, the quieter passages more private. Recorded at a lower level, it makes more of contrast between relaxations (in the Mermaids' song, for instance) and tensions (good at the gathering storm). The soloists are less forwardly placed but characterise vividly in compensation.

Best is Jonas Kaufman's Huon. The tenor is supposed to possess the heft of a Tannhäuser while performing graceful flourishes in the manner of Rossini's Count Almaviva. Kaufman brings all the lyrical sweetness and technical skill for that part of it, and can still produce extra power and ring for the heroics. The heroine is sung with less distinction by Hillevi Martinpelto. Ideally the part calls for a voice of melting beauty (a Tiana Lemnitz perhaps) for the 'vision' solo and the cavatina, and the strength and nobility of a Brünnhilde in the 'Ocean' aria: this Rezia falls rather ineffectually between.

The others do well, the Fatima taking full advantage of her two attractive solos and the Oberon keeping his voice light and distinct from Huon. The Monteverdi Choir make a point of singing in character and with attention to the dramatic situation. Perhaps the decisive factor for many will be language: this performance is sung in English, which for once can be claimed to be authentic.

-- John Steane, Gramophone [Awards 2005]
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Works on This Recording

1.
Oberon, J 306 by Carl Maria von Weber
Performer:  Katherine Fuge (Soprano), Marina Comparato (Mezzo Soprano), Frances Bourne (Mezzo Soprano),
Jonas Kaufmann (Tenor), Steve Davislim (Tenor), Hillevi Martinpelto (Soprano),
Roger Allam (Spoken Vocals), William Dazeley (Baritone)
Conductor:  John Eliot Gardiner
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Monteverdi Choir,  Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1825-1826; Dresden, Germany 
Venue:  Watford Colosseum, England 
Length: 122 Minutes 44 Secs. 
Language: English 
Notes: Watford Colosseum, England (03/15/2002 - 03/19/2002) 

Sound Samples

Oberon - English Text Version with Narration / Act 1: Overture
Oberon - English Text Version with Narration / Act 1: Narration: In a garden full of beautiful flowers
Oberon - English Text Version with Narration / Act 1: Trio: Light as fairy foot can fall
Oberon - English Text Version with Narration / Act 1: Narration: Watching over Oberon, his sleeping master
Oberon - English Text Version with Narration / Act 1: Aria: Fatal vow!
Oberon - English Text Version with Narration / Act 1: Narration: Puck, searching high and low
Oberon - English Text Version with Narration / Act 1: Vision: O why art thou sleeping, Sir Huon the brave?
Oberon - English Text Version with Narration / Act 1: Narration: The vision is gone
Oberon - English Text Version with Narration / Act 1: Ensemble: Honour and Joy
Oberon - English Text Version with Narration / Act 1: Narration: Huon is sure that his vision...
Oberon - English Text Version with Narration / Act 1: Aria: From boyhood trained
Oberon - English Text Version with Narration / Act 1: Narration: So Knight and squire take ship from France
Oberon - English Text Version with Narration / Act 1: Finale: Haste, gallant knight
Oberon - English Text Version with Narration / Act 2: Glory
Oberon - English Text Version with Narration / Act 2: Narration: It is the wedding day...
Oberon - English Text Version with Narration / Act 2: Dance of the bayaderes
Oberon - English Text Version with Narration / Act 2: Narration: Reiza whispers anxiously...
Oberon - English Text Version with Narration / Act 2: Melodrama and Narration: Summoned by the horn
Oberon - English Text Version with Narration / Act 2: Narration: While Huon and Reiza get ready to leave
Oberon - English Text Version with Narration / Act 2: Arriette: A Lonely Arab Maid
Oberon - English Text Version with Narration / Act 2: Narration: All is now set fair...
Oberon - English Text Version with Narration / Act 2: Quartet: Over the dark blue waters
Oberon - English Text Version with Narration / Act 2: Narration: But the lovers' troubles...
Oberon - English Text Version with Narration / Act 2: Solo & Choir: Spirits of air and earth and sea
Oberon - English Text Version with Narration / Act 2: Narration: On a barren island
Oberon - English Text Version with Narration / Act 2: Ruler of this awful hour
Oberon - English Text Version with Narration / Act 2: Narration: Huon has lost the magic horn
Oberon - English Text Version with Narration / Act 2: Scene & Arie: Ocean thou mighty monster
Oberon - English Text Version with Narration / Act 2: Narration: What Reiza has seen...
Oberon - English Text Version with Narration / Act 2: Narration: Alas poor mortal
Oberon - English Text Version with Narration / Act 2: Narration: Oberon orders Puck
Oberon - English Text Version with Narration / Act 2: Finale: And hark, the mermaids...Oh is pleasant
Oberon - English Text Version with Narration / Act 3: Narration: Rescued by corsairs
Oberon - English Text Version with Narration / Act 3: Lied: O Araby dear
Oberon - English Text Version with Narration / Act 3: Narration: Sherasimin is entranced
Oberon - English Text Version with Narration / Act 3: Duet: On the banks
Oberon - English Text Version with Narration / Act 3: Narration: Puck has magicked...
Oberon - English Text Version with Narration / Act 3: Terzettino: And I must I then
Oberon - English Text Version with Narration / Act 3: Narration: But there is no response...
Oberon - English Text Version with Narration / Act 3: Cavatine: Mourn thou poor heart
Oberon - English Text Version with Narration / Act 3: Narration: Almanzor is bewitched
Oberon - English Text Version with Narration / Act 3: "I Revel In Hope"
Oberon - English Text Version with Narration / Act 3: Narration: Suddenly the curtains part...
Oberon - English Text Version with Narration / Act 3: Chorus & Ballet: For thee hath beauty
Oberon - English Text Version with Narration / Act 3: Narration: Huon tries to break free
Oberon - English Text Version with Narration / Act 3: Almanzor is rooted to the spot...Finale: Hark what notes
Oberon - English Text Version with Narration / Act 3: Narration: Huon with true heroism
Oberon - English Text Version with Narration / Act 3: March & Finale

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