Composers: Weber
Compositions: Der Freischütz
Performers: Lise Davidsen s, Andreas Schager t, Frankfurt RSO/Marek Janowski
Catalogue Number: Pentatone PTC5186788 (2CD)

This new Freischütz joins a long line of fine recordings of a work in which young German conductors display their chops, and to which old ones return with obvious fondness. Marek Janowski falls into the latter camp, having made a well-received recording with the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin in 1994. This time round he’s at the helm of the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra, and he offers up a more vivacious account, bolder and more colourful than the subtle glamour of his earlier effort.

Janowski’s pacey reading is entirely welcome, and he delights in Weber’s evocative orchestrations – the crucial horns ring out with admirable polish and style, with the woodwind and choral shrieks in the Wolf’s Glen scene hair raising. The quality of the orchestral playing is mostly matched by the cast, who are pleasingly idiomatic. Many listeners will be curious to hear rising star soprano Lise Davidsen as Agathe, and she doesn’t disappoint. Her two big arias – Leise, leise and Und ob die Wolke – are radiantly, and poignantly sung, demonstrating a ravishing ability to float the tone and an exceptional legato.

Sofia Fomina wields a bright, focused instrument as the lively Ännchen, while Andreas Schager is for the most part an ideal Max, though there are the usual struggles with some of the role’s lower lying phrases. Alan Held’s Kaspar is less successful, sounding wobbly in parts, but Franz-Josef Selig is as classy and stylish ever as the Hermit.