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Der Freischütz - Twelve recitatives by Berlioz - 1841

CD. Der Freischütz

Twelve recitatives in French by Berlioz (May-June 1841).

 The full orchestral score and performing materials for these recitativescan easily be associated whith any version of Freischütz

In 1841, the French Opera decided to produce Freischütz.1 Although their rival, the Opéra-Comique, was allowed the freedom of mixing spoken dialogue with music, this meant that all lengthy spoken dialogues in the original had to be transformed into recitatives. Berlioz, whose artistic intransigence and admiration for Weber were well-known, agreed to take on this work. After reducing all spoken dialogue to the strict minimum required for comprehension of the plot, he performed a subtle and creative musical miracle. His deference for Weber prevented him from any intrusion in his own style, although his touch can be felt at times.  After all, the atmosphere of the Gorge aux Loups bears some similarity to the debacle in the finale of Damnation de Faust. Some of the 12 recitatives are minimal, with only a few lines, using only string instruments. Others are much longer, with up to 80 measures and the full orchestra. These musical transitions between melodies and ensembles give Freischütz an undeniable theatrical unity, as well as a new aesthetic coherence. 2

1  An arrangement by Castil-Blaze, in pseudo Walter Scott style, entitled "Robin des bois", was the only form in which Weber's masterpiece was performed at that time in Paris. The action was set in Yorkshire and the characters had patronymic names in English. First performed on December 7th 1824. Short score for piano by Aulagnier, Paris. For any other information regarding this production, please refer to the ever fascinating Mémoires (Garnier Flammarion, Paris, 1969, pp. 163-167), and the chapter Berlioz devoted to this in A travers Champs (Gründ, Paris, 1971 pp. 245-250).

2 The French version of Freischütz by Berlioz was performed in Paris up until June 9th 1927 (with Germaine Lubin in the role of Agatha, although the recitatives had more or less been "touched up" and some had even been re-written.

 Act II. Recitative before n°10 - Trio (MP3 - 2891 Ko)

Some links

  Hector Berlioz website
  Hector Berlioz National Association
  Carl-Maria von Weber Association
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