Daniel Auber Overtures — great music, disappointing sound

This release is the first volume of a Daniel-François-Esprit Auber recording series. When finished, it will include all of Auber’s overtures. And that includes 31 opéras-comiques, seven opéras, three drames lyriques, and seven other stage works.

Auber is mostly known for Fra Diavolo. The comic opera was an international hit when it premiered and is still performed today.

But with over 40 dramatic musical works in Auber’s catalog, there’s obviously a lot more to explore. Of the eight works featured in this release, seven are world premiere recordings.

Auber was one of the most popular opera composers in France. He had a natural gift for melody and a strong sense of theatrical story-telling. Both those skills are apparent in this music.

Although billed as a collection of overtures, quite a few entre’act preludes are included. It makes for a fine collection of music, similar in effect to say, an instrumental collection of Rossini or Offenbach.

I’m excited about the concept of this new Auber series, but not so much about its execution. I found the actual recording a little disappointing. I’ve heard recordings of the Cezch Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra Pardubice before, and I’ve generally liked them.

Here, though, the ensemble texture sounded a little thin for the material. And the recording seemed a little dull, and lacking in fine detail. These issues may be just in the recording process.

Naxos previously started an Auber overture series with Wolfgang Dorner and the Orchestre de Cannes. I believe it only lasted one volume. I hope this new series succeeds — but something has to be done about that sound.

Daniel-François-Esprit Auber: Overtures
Le Maçon, Le Timide, Leicester, Le Séjour militaire, Emma, a Neige, Le Testament et les Billets doux, Le Bergère châtelaine
Czech Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra Pardubice; Dario Salvi, conductor
Naxos 8.574005

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