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Weber Die Drei Pintos (completed by Mahler)

Here is a comic opera project of extraordinary interest, but the CDs are significantly marred for non-German speakers by lack of texts and translations. Did the Wexford audience have the benefit of surtitles?

This is a live recording, with lots of noisy stage movement and audience reaction, culled from four performances at last October's Wexford Festival. Die Drei Pintos is an incompleted opera of Weber, completed by the young Mahler (he had already composed the Wayfarer Songs and Das klagende Lied ) who contributes a great deal of his own music, based on other material by the composer he revered, but in a style which is a self-effacing tribute to Weber.

The sources are given in Michael Kennedy's historical notes, plus Mahler's stipulation at the 1888 premiere that 'no one will be allowed to know beforehand what is by me and what is by Weber'. So it is a hommage à Weber, and as near as we can come to knowing how some youthful operas abandoned by Mahler might have sounded.

The music is charming; the international cast and audience is clearly having a great time, with singing and orchestral playing lively and smooth, all credit to a cast of singers unknown to me. The Belarus National Philharmonic acquits itself well - there has been criticism that Wexford needs to 'outsource' most of its singers, chorus and orchestra for the festival.

The recording was planned 'to give you an idea of what many thousands of people enjoy each year' and certainly it fulfils that objective, and will be a fine souvenir for everyone who saw the production at Wexford and participated in its recording. Track numbers are not harmonized with the numbering of Mahler's scenario. The booklet lists everyone to be heard, taking up five pages, and even so there is a lot of empty space.

Priorities for home listeners to opera need to be reconsidered, even allowing for financial constraints (c.f. our discussion of Haydn opera booklets). But the music is so winning, and enthusiastically and stylishly performed that, given those reservations, at Naxos's price this account of Die Drei Pintos can be recommended.


© Peter Grahame Woolf