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Die drei Pintos.

DIE DREI PINTOS

Weber/Mahler

Holzer, Furlong, Zechmeister, Marilley, Shaw, Svab. National Philharmonic Orchestra of Melarus, Paolo Arrivabeni, conductor.

Naxos 8.660142-43 (2 CDs)

This charmer of a comic opera, 68 years in the making, marks the unlikely "collaboration" between a pair of composers at opposite ends of the Romantic timeline. Weber began working on Die drei Pintos in 1820, but it remained scarcely more than a series of sketches when he died prematurely. His widow presented the manuscripts to Meyerbeer in hopes of his tackling the project, but he dawdled even more than Weber had and produced absolutely nothing.

It was left to the composer's grandson and namesake, Carl von Weber, to resuscitate Pintos. He offered young Gustav Mahler the job of completing his grandfather's work. Die drei Pintos finally reached the stage--very successfully--in Leipzig in January 1888. Mahler used whatever he could of the sketches, but not necessarily where Weber had placed them, and filled out the bulk of the score with other Weber pieces, reworked for their new context, as well as a couple of inventions of his own and all the orchestration. While there's no doubt Mahler did the lion's share of the work, his Drei Pintos sounds emphatically like Weber, and not like the composer of the Songs of a Wayfarer or the "Titan" Symphony from roughly the same time. It's a charming, funny, tuneful piece, and it deserves to be performed more often.

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Naxos's new release captures a delightful production at the Wexford Festival in October 2003, though without the visual component, its strengths and weaknesses are a little different from those I remember from the production's opening night. Mezzo-soprano Sophie Marilley, for example, who stood out on stage as a comic maid with crack timing, sounds a bit heavy and strained in her Act II aria, while soprano Barbara Zechmeister makes a better vocal impression here than she made live. As the eponymous three Pintos, two tenor impostors impersonating the basso real Pinto in pursuit of his fiancee and her dowry, Eric Shaw and Peter Furlong (the tenors) and Alessandro Svab all offer good work, but it's Canada's Shaw who, just as he did in the theatre, takes home the honors with his elegant, attractive, idiomatic voicing of a charming prankster. Paolo Arrivabeni conducts the National Philharmonic of Belarus in a genial, well-paced account of the score.
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Author:Dillon, Patrick
Publication:Opera Canada
Date:Dec 15, 2004
Words:396
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