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  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    



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Franz LEHÁR (1870-1948)
Suites Dances and Intermezzi

Zigeunerfest (Gypsy Feast) ballet scene
Marsch and Palotas from Wo die Lerche singt (Where the Lark Sings)
Preludium religioso from Rodrigo
Ein Marchen aus 1001 Nacht Ė Scène phantastique (Fairy Tale from 1001 Nights)
Ballet Music from Peter and Paul im Schlaraffenland (Peter and Paul in Cockaigne)
Fata morgana, Konzert-Gavotte
Korallenlippen (Coral Lips), Polka mazurka
Resignation from Fürstenkind
Suite de Danse

Chinesische Ballett-Suite (Chinese Ballet Suite)
Berlin Oberschöneweide
Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin conducted by Michail Jurowski
recorded February 23rd 2001 in Christuskirche
CPO 999 761-2 [67:55] Fullprice


Hereís breezy, undemanding music for the Christmas season; full of Viennese operetta charm. This is mostly material from Lehárís early years with just a few later selections from his lesser-known work of the 1930s. It has to be said that much of it sounds too familiar; thinly disguised variations of well-trodden material associated with the genre: czárdás, polkas, light Ďchocolate-soldierí marches and saccharine romantic lyricism.

The major work in this compilation is the ballet music from Peter and Paul im Schlaraffenland (1906). It was composed immediately after Die Lustige Witwe (The Merry Widow). Its ten short movements are all charming and pleasant but they hardly offer anything new or arresting although Ferkel-Tanz does have some welcome bucolic humour (in one part the amusing orchestration and effect might suggest a love-sick cow?). Even a piece with the title The Fairy Tale from 1001 Nights hardly strays from Vienna; indeed its castanets seem to suggest Spain!

Against this trend is the gently elegiac character of The Preludium religioso, still with Lehárís typical lyrical tone but with a violin solo full of sweet pathos. There is something of Lehárís Prague teacher, Fibich in its character. Resignation, from 1909, breathes some new life into the collection with more deeply-felt music that has much more a feeling of sincerity and the motif of renunciation of love that would later become so important in Lehárís work. The Suite de Danse, a much later work from 1935, is endearing and it has much more interesting harmonies and some interesting early figurations that might suggest a turbulent winter evening outside the ballroom and whirling dancers in. The Chinese Ballet Suite from 1937 is also attractive and demonstrates a penchant for melody and tonal colours. The oriental influence is evident but is often rather twee as though the scene was viewed "from the safety of the Peking Embassy windows" - Vienna is never far away!

A pleasant undemanding compilation. For the most part, early Lehár with more interesting music from the 1930s played with enthusiasm and warmly recorded. For Lehár completists
Ian Lace



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