Colin Davis, LSO
Seriously enjoyed myself at this one. As I say at the end, I just watched the thing ufold with childish glee and any slight problems with ensemble or vocal quality just fell away. Such a joy. Basically it's not as serious a work as it wants to be, and there certainly are perfunctory patches (the ending for instance), but overall the good patches more than outweigh the bad. It's obvious what Wagner took from Weber when we hear Lohengrin and Tannhauser next to Weber's works, and obvious too that Wagner is a much greater musical and dramatic mind - the symbolism resonates, the characters possess far greater depth, the drama unfolds with far greater surety. That said, Weber is often the more beautiful aurally, certainly if we compare it to these early works of Wagner, and there are times when I might very well say I prefer the music of the lesser talent.
I reviewed it here: http://www.bachtrack.com/review-der-freischutz-lso
Here's a preview:
While Weber is widely acknowledged as being of historic importance as the link in the German operatic tradition between Beethoven and Wagner, his operas are still rarely staged in England, and even in concert remain a relative novelty. Curious because this is music of the utmost vitality and beauty and at times he surely borders on genius. Not the same level of genius as those two masters that flank him, but an extraordinary ear for sonority, a very pleasing classical sense of form, and an unquestionable gift for vocal writing make him a very interesting and likeable composer.