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Albert LORTZING (1801-1851)
Overture Regina [6:20]
Overture Zar und Zimmerman [6:21]
Harmoniemusik Der Wildschütz [43:55]
Arranged for winds by Andreas N. Tarkmann
Stuttgart Winds
rec. 2017, Ludwig-Hofacher-Kirche, Marbach-Rielingshausen, Germany
CPO 555 045-2 [56:36]

Lortzing is now remembered for little else other than his two comic light operas, Zar und Zimmerman and Der Wildschütz, and even then, his fame and occasional performances are both largely confined to within German borders.

The “Harmoniemusik”, presented in the notes here by composer, author and university lecturer Andreas Tarkmann, is an arrangement and transcription by him for wind instruments of a compilation of Lortzing’s genial melodies from Der Wildschütz. The preponderance of German dialogue and emphasis upon verbal humour typical of “Spieloper” means that it makes sense to appeal to a wider audience by replacing the human voices with those of wind-players drawn from the SWR Symphonieorchester, creating dialogues and ensembles, colouring and ornamenting them appropriately.

The sonorities and textures Tarkmann engineers here are very satisfying, the sound and balance are ideal. Only ten instrumentalists often sound like a bigger band without losing clarity and their first-rate playing is warm and homogeneous.

Although the reverse cover shows the Wildschütz music as belonging only to track 3, in fact there are ten tracks listed in the booklet, each with a sub-title linking it to the action of the opera, such as no. 10, “Arie: Fünftausend Taler”, so there is a clear programmatic element for those interested, but there is no need to have any familiarity with the opera itself to appreciate the bubbling stream of tunes. This is charming, good-humoured music, nothing profound but very well crafted and judiciously arranged. Nor is it all “oompah” or “G & S auf Deutsch”; no. 7, for example, contains a soulful oboe lament lifted and transposed down a tone from the duet “Bleiben soll ich”, whose lovelorn tenor line is so wistfully sung by Fritz Wunderlich in the recording conducted by Robert Heger on EMI. My only complaint is that even with two supplementary overtures, running time is rather short at 56 minutes.

Ralph Moore

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