Perhaps Szymanowski’s music is too cool and sophisticated ever to become popular. Even the third of his Op. 4 Studies, which Paderewski made famous, is less full-bodied than Scriabin’s early C sharp minor Étude, and while Scriabin believed in the madness of his later music, Szymanowski’s apparent abandon in his voluptuous period around the First World War is crafted with detachment. Dennis Lee clarifies the cascades of notes – or rather sonorities – in the two major sets, Métopes and Masques, so that these complex pieces are understood more easily than usual. The recorded sound is a bit thin and small, but clean.
Carl Maria von Weber's opera "Der Freischütz" met with instant success on its premiere in Berlin 1821, rapidly spreading throughout Europe. Audiences identified readily with the folk melodies and hunting character of its Bohemian setting. The story tells of Max's struggle to win Agathe in marriage. The desperation which leads him to trade with the devil in order to regain his lost marksman's skills, finds resolution when fate intervenes to prevent the fatal "free bullet" from striking Agathe, saved by the sacred roses in her bridal coronet. In this Achim Freyer production from the Wüttemberg State Opera, the Huntsman's role is taken by Toni Krämer, with Caterina Ligendza as Agathe, Raili Viljakainen as Ännchen and Wolfram Raub as Samiel, under the bariton of American conductor Dennis Russell Davies.