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  • Weber: Oberon
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Weber: Oberon

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Audio CD, August 9, 2005
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Product Details

  • Performer: Hillevi Martinpelto, Jonas Kaufmann, Steve Davislim, The Monteverdi Choir, Marina Comparato, et al.
  • Orchestra: Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique
  • Conductor: John Eliot Gardiner
  • Composer: Carl Maria von Weber
  • Audio CD (August 9, 2005)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: Philips / Decca
  • ASIN: B0009AM5G8
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #151,568 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By DAVID BRYSON VINE VOICE on July 4, 2006
Format: Audio CD
Weber does not really have as clear a `profile' or identity for the musical public as composers of similar stature, say Schumann or Chopin or Berlioz, have. Knowledge of his work (my own included) is usually patchy. As far as his operas go, even those of us well familiar with Freischuetz and Euryanthe rarely know Oberon, and this is not surprising since, as Gardiner says, it was thought all but unstageable throughout the 20th century.

During the first half of the 20th century Handel's operas were viewed in much the same way. We are learning better now, and it's time to think again about Oberon as well. There is a really excellent liner booklet accompanying this set containing thoughtful and informative essays both by Gardiner and by Richard Wigmore. Wigmore quotes some of the more unflattering comments on Planche's libretto, including Tovey's dictum that it is `the merest twaddle'. I will venture to take a different view and say that in my opinion it is really quite good. I read it as a pantomime book, and read like this it is certainly a lot more coherent and sequential than the libretto of The Magic Flute. I think I find a good deal of tongue-in-cheek whimsy in the vagaries of the plot, and if I'm right Planche has really had the last laugh on Tovey and the others. For this performance, sung in English, Gardiner has had the excellent idea of connecting the musical numbers with a spoken narrative, read by Roger Allam. Gardiner has written this narrative himself, and he needs to be complimented on the way he has caught the Christmas-pantomime idiom.

As for the music, it doesn't recall The Magic Flute to me nor indeed anything by Mozart, to whom Weber was related by marriage. The fairy music stands comparison with Mendelssohn's, but you would never mistake it for Mendelssohn's.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Robert Heath on December 28, 2005
Format: Audio CD
This is not an opera and should be considered as belonging to a different genre almost by itself. Weber's music is startlingly beautiful. The cast is highly accomplished and the Monteverdi Choir true to form. The interpretation is exquisite and the remarkable dynamics obtained from singers and musicians alike are faithfully captured by a successful recording. Gardiner and the Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique reproduce the excitement of a work that marks the transition from the classical to the romantic style. It's not hard to imagine why the première in 1826 at Covent Garden's Theatre Royal caused so much excitement.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Suddhaseel Sen on June 26, 2008
Format: Audio CD
Except for a non-commercial DVD from 1986, the year of Weber's death bicentenary, under Seiji Ozawa, Weber's Oberon had not been recorded in English, the language in which Weber set the libretto, and this is the first official recording in the original language of the full score. Translation into German does not solve the problems of the libretto, and it is the charm of the music that really counts, though I would agree with Mr. Bryson that Planché's libretto is not half as bad as it is made out to be. Gardiner's linking narrative makes the opera quite viable, at least on disc, and it involves neither a radical rewriting of the libretto (as did composer and novelist Anthony Burgess, who also arranged the overture for guitar quartet), nor interpolation of musical material, a method adopted by other admirers of Weber in attempts to rescue the score from oblivion, such as Franz Wüllner, Donald Tovey and Gustav Mahler (whose version has been recorded by James Conlon).

Der Freischütz and Euryanthe have had their champions among German composers and musicologists: the former is regarded as the cornerstone of German Romantic opera, while the latter, with its anticipation of Wagner's Leitmotiv technique, occupies a central position in the historiography of German opera. Oberon's champions have come from other countries, especially France. The score, which has been repeatedly praised for its orchestration and melodic beauty by composers such as Berlioz, Chabrier, Debussy and Ravel, shows how much more Weber was than being simply a forerunner of Wagner. True, the score is occasionally uneven, partly because Weber, who was dying of tuberculosis, quarried previous works, some of them as early as his first opera, Peter Schmoll, for musical material, in his hurry to meet the deadline.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Ralph Moore TOP 500 REVIEWER on August 20, 2006
Format: Audio CD
Forgive me if I correct the review by my compatriot, David Bryson, by pointing out that the main tenor role of Huon is taking by that excellent German tenor Jonas Kaufmann, whom I heard in Puccini's "Rondine" last year and found very impressive, with a baritonal quality that does not impede the projection of a ringing top. Steve Davislim sings Oberon - very well, but his is a smaller, lighter, neater voice, As in his otherwise very informative and intelligent review, Mr Bryson does not consider the singers, I would add that while he is right that the English even from non-native speakers is excellent (both Kaufmann's and Martinpelto's being virtually impeccable), the exception is the attractively voiced Marina Comparato as Fatima - but her accent matters little as she is playing an "exotic" role: an Arabian maid. Orchestral playing, sound, production, the narrator's delivery of Gardiner's link narrative: everything works to make this work not a hodge-podge but a coherent, entertaining whole, show-casing some delightful music - albeit bewilderingly disparate in its synthesis of different styles. The only slight disappointment comes in Martinpelto's rendering of the showpiece aria "Ocean, thou mighty monster"; she simply hasn't the heft of voice to do it full justice but it is nonetheless an attractive performance.
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