Great Comedy Overtures - Friedel

Great Comedy Overtures - Friedel

Naxos  NBD0043


Classical - Orchestral

Ferdinand Harold: Zampa
Otto Nicolai: Die lustige Weiber von Windsor (The Merry Wives of Windsor)
Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari: Il segreto di Susanna
Ambroise Thomas: Mignon
Emil Nikolaus von Reznicek: Donna Diana
Friedrich von Flotow: Martha
Daniel-Francois-Esprit Auber: Fra Diavolo
Albert Lortzing: Zar und Zimmermann
Domenico Cimarosa: Il matrimo nio segreto
Adolphe Adam: Si j'etais roi
Peter Cornelius: Der Barbier von Bagdad (arr. Felix Mottl)

Royal Scottish National Orchestra
Lance Friedel

The flourishing genre of the comic opera had its roots in eighteenth-century Italian opera buffa, whose irrepressible brio was soon taken up outside the country’s borders. In France it produced opéra comique and operetta, and in German-speaking countries Spieloper and Viennese operetta. Some of the world’s most popular comic opera overtures, filled with gorgeous tunes, brilliant orchestration and race-to-the-finish endings, are presented here. They include staples of the concert repertoire such as Hérold’s dramatic Zampa, the textual delicacy of Wolf-Ferrari’s Il segreto di Susanna and the vivid colour of Lortzing’s Zar und Zimmermann.

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PCM recording

Recorded in Henry Wood Hall, Glasgow, Scotland, from 14th to 16th January 2014
Producer: Tim Handley
Engineer: Phil Rowlands
Resolutions (2)
  • 2.0 LPCM 24bit/96kHz
  • 5.1 DTS HD MA 24bit/96kHz
Reviews (1)

Review by Graham Williams - April 17, 2015

These days one would be lucky to hear any of these wonderfully crafted eleven Comedy Overtures in the Concert Hall let alone encounter a complete performance of the works from which they are taken. For that reason alone the attractive selection of music performed on this disc is most welcome.

The majority of the Overtures performed here were written in the 19th century whilst just two – Domenico Cimarosa's 'Il matrimonio segreto' and Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari's 'Il segreto di Susanna' - stem from the 18th and 20th centuries respectively.

All these pieces are beautifully orchestrated by their respective composers and crammed full of beguiling melodies. They can hardly fail to be enjoyed, whether listened to all at once or simply randomly dipped into.

The American conductor Lance Friedel directs the Royal Scottish National Orchestra in efficient well-drilled performances (that include some fine wind solos), though there is sometimes a lack of charm and nuance evident, especially when compared with accounts from more charismatic conductors from the past such as Beecham, Karajan, Szell and especially Paray, whose incomparable account of Auber's 'Fra Diavolo' overture can be heard on a marvellous Mercury Living Presence SACD Suppé, Auber: Overtures - DSO/Paray.

The recordings were made in the Henry Wood Hall, Glasgow, – the orchestra's main rehearsal and recording studio, a venue not renowned for its acoustic richness – and engineered by the usually reliable Phil Rowlands. Wind, brass and percussion are cleanly reproduced, but the acoustic does not flatter the strings which can sound rather shrill when playing forte or above.

This multi-channel Blu-ray audio disc offers a choice of 2.0 Stereo (24-bit 96 kHz) and 5.1 Surround DTS-HD Master Audio selectable at the touch of a button on the player.
In stereo the sound is well focused and has a pleasing ambience, but the 5.1 Surround mix is disappointing. Though some sound does emanate from the centre channel there is virtually nothing at all from the surround speakers. Further, the overall volume when listening in multi-channel seems much reduced.

You can watch and listen to the orchestra performing the overture to Peter Cornelius's 'Der Barbier von Bagdad at which provides a taste of what to expect.

In spite of the reservations stated above this generous collection (79'.41”) has much appeal.

Copyright © 2015 Graham Williams and


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