GMCD 7138 – Master Works III – Music by Carl Maria von Weber

London Symphony Orchestra, Hans Hubert Schoenzeler – Conductor

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By Simon Trezise

This is a poignant issue, for the notes accompanying this recording were the last professional task carried out by the conductor Hans Hubert Schönzeler before his death in 1997. He also edited the Eulenberg scores of these works and decided for this recording to “weld” the last two movements of the Second Symphony together on the reasonable grounds that played separately they are too short to balance the first two.
The success of this experiment is well worth hearing, though he hardly manages to dispel doubts about the somewhat flimsy structure and content of the work overall. The performances themselves are sound rather than inspiring. His sense of the right tempo rarely fails, however, and there is some nifty oboe playing, especially in the demanding Scherzo of the First Symphony.
Schönzeler effectively realises the Freischütz atmosphere of the First’s slow movement, but rarely goes up the extra gear or two for the climactic peaks (most strongly missed in the Finale of No 1). The short fillers two movements from Weber’s incidental music to Turandot are extremely engaging.