Accentus – Laurence Equilbey – The Freischütz Project (2021)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/96 kHz | Time – 01:19:28 minutes | 1,35 GB | Genre: Classical
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download | Digital Booklet, Front Cover | © Warner Classics

“Beyond being a masterpiece, Der Freischütz marks a starting point as one of the first – if not the first – great German Romantic operas,” says Laurence Equilbey. She conducts highlights from Weber’s exhilarating, ground-breaking work in both audio and video format, recorded live in Paris. The vivid period instruments of the Insula Orchestra are joined by the Accentus Choir and a cast led with poetry and radiance by tenor Stanislas de Barbeyrac and soprano Johanni van Oostrum. The stylish, suitably magical staging is by Clément Debailleul and Raphaël Navarro of Compagnie 14:20.

The historical-performance movement has moved profitably into the 19th century, but the music of Carl Maria von Weber has so far mostly not benefited from such treatment. The present recording is not the very first historically informed performance of his masterwork, the opera Der Freischütz, but when this release appeared in 2021, there hadn’t been one for at least 15 years. The title The Freischütz Project does not really mean anything; what listeners get here is a set of excerpts from the opera, linked to but recorded independently of a 2019 Paris production, and featuring the same performers. The physical album comes packaged with a DVD containing actual scenes from the production, but listeners may do well with the CD itself, for it is the instrumental sounds that are the chief attraction here. The cast, led by powerhouse soprano Johanni van Oostrum as Agathe, is solid, but for the real revelations listen above all to the Wolf’s Glen scene in the second act. It is always the center of this opera, but here produces a genuinely uncanny sound with the creaking low brasses and other supernatural effects. It’s not just the brasses and winds, though, that are distinctive; hear the chattering, scraping strings in “Schau’, der Herr mich an als König,” from Act I. It’s not clear from the notes exactly what instruments, strings, and bows were used, and how much is the contribution of the instrumentalists of the Insula Orchestra or of conductor Laurence Equilbey, but whatever the case, the sound world of the opera holds together solidly as the work proceeds. Erato’s sound (from the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées) is very good, and one may hope that this group of excerpts can serve as a prelude to a CD release of the complete opera.

Tracklist

1. Accentus – Laurence Equilbey – Der Freischütz, Op. 77: Overture
2. Accentus – Laurence Equilbey – Der Freischütz, Op. 77, Act 1: “Viktoria, Viktoria!” (Chorus)
3. Accentus – Laurence Equilbey – Der Freischütz, Op. 77, Act 1: “Schau’ der Herr mich an als König!” (Kilian, Chorus)
4. Accentus – Laurence Equilbey – Der Freischütz, Op. 77, Act 1: “Nein, länger trag’ ich nicht die Qualen” – “Durch die Wälder, durch die Auen” (Max)
5. Accentus – Laurence Equilbey – Der Freischütz, Op. 77, Act 1: “Schweig, schweig, damit dich niemand warnt!” (Kaspar)
6. Accentus – Laurence Equilbey – Der Freischütz, Op. 77, Act 2: “Schelm! Halt’ fest” (Ännchen, Agathe)
7. Accentus – Laurence Equilbey – Der Freischütz, Op. 77, Act 2: “Kommt ein schlanker Bursch gegangen” (Ännchen)
8. Accentus – Laurence Equilbey – Der Freischütz, Op. 77, Act 2: “Wie nahte mir der Schlummer” (Agathe)
9. Accentus – Laurence Equilbey – Der Freischütz, Op. 77, Act 2: “The Wolf’s Glen” (Kaspar, Max, Samiel, Chorus)
10. Accentus – Laurence Equilbey – Der Freischütz, Op. 77, Act 3: “Und ob die Wolke sie verhülle” (Agathe)
11. Accentus – Laurence Equilbey – Der Freischütz, Op. 77, Act 3: “Einst träumte meiner sel’gen Base” – “Trübe Augen, Liebchen, taugen” (Ännchen)
12. Accentus – Laurence Equilbey – Der Freischütz, Op. 77, Act 3: “Was gleicht wohl auf Erden” (Chorus)
13. Accentus – Laurence Equilbey – Der Freischütz, Op. 77, Act 3: “Wer legt auf ihn so strengen Bann?” (Hermit, Ottokar, Max, Agathe, Ännchen, Kuno, Chorus)

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