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Franz von Suppé (1819-1895)
Die Reise um die Erde in 80 Tagen ('Around the World in 80 Days') (1874)
Janáček Philharmonic Orchestra/Dario Salvi
rec. 2021, Ostrava, Czech Republic
NAXOS 8.574396 [50]

Mention of music and Jules Verne’s fantastical novel Around the World in 80 Days had me thinking of the film music by Victor Young and Hans Zimmer - especially Young. I had never associated Franz von Suppé with incidental music. Better known, if at all, as a profuse practitioner of operetta he also dipped his ink in the world of music for spoken theatre. There is at least one other such example of the genre: Suppé’s Mozart on Naxos 8.575383; again, with the same forces as here. If Marco Polo could issue six CDs of Suppé’s overtures of which Poet and Peasant and Schöne Galathée have for decades been celebrated examples, then perhaps Naxos will continue to grace us with further delving into his incidental music.

The stage version of Jules Verne’s picaresque Die Reise um die Erde in 80 Tagen was made not long after the novel hit the streets. Rescued from a dusty oubliette, Suppé’s music here receives its first recording; it had first seen light of day at Vienna’s Carltheater just a year after Verne’s novel took society by storm.

The music is sensationally and fulsomely recorded. The readings are stylish and the disc boasts a big sound with quiet quiets and obstreperous fortes. As a listening experience, this amounts to an extended and agreeable travelogue suite. The style often comes with a measure of charm, strut or bombast. You can think in terms of the geographical suites of Charpentier and Massenet, the incidental music of Bizet and Má Vlast by Smetana. The movements are spick and span - short and sweet. None is more than 7:17 and the briefest one is just 0.15. Most come in around 2-3 minutes. The character of these pieces places them in the world of vignettes rather than dances. The mood encompasses a storm, music-box carillons, whirlygigs, anthems (‘God Save the Queen’), hurdy-gurdies, scenas, brobdingnagian marches, swirling Tunisian heat haze, thunder-rolls and even a gun-shot. Some ideas are repeated and these serve to unify the sequence.

The truly excellent full-fat notes are jointly by conductor Dario Salvia and Robert Ignatius Letellier. Naxos have included no fewer than seven contemporaneous photos/plates.

If not devastatingly original, it is triumphantly stylish and gives much pleasure.

Rob Barnett

Ia. Die Wette um eine Million. Auftritt von Fogg
Ib. Die Wette um eine Million. Actschluß
IIa. Am Kanal von Suez
IIb. Allegro con fuoco
IIc. Allegro con fuoco
III. Die Witwe des Rajah
IV. Auf dem Scheiterhaufen
V. Im Namen des Gesetzes
VI. Die Schlangengrotte in Borneo
VII. Das Fest der Königin Nakahira
VIII. Der Goldgräber von San Francisco
IX. Der Überfall auf der Pacific-Bahn
X. Die Riesentreppe bei Kearney
XI. An Bord der Henriette
XII. Kapitän Fogg
XIII. Ein unverhofftes Wiedersehn
XIV. Ein freiwilliger Verbrecher
XV. Drei Hochzeiten auf einmal

Published: November 15, 2022

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