> Johann STRAUSS II - Die Fledermaus [RJF]: Classical CD Reviews- Jun2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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Johann STRAUSS II (1825-1899).
Die Fledermaus (without dialogue).
Eisenstein, Julius Patzak (ten), Rosalinde, Hilde Gueden (sop), Alfred, Anton Dermota (ten),. Adele, Wilma Lipp (sop), Orlovsky, Sieglinde Wagner (cont).
Chorus of the Vienna State Opera
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra/Clemens Krauss
Recorded in the Musikvereinsaal, Vienna, September 1950. Bargain price.
NAXOS Historical 8.110180-81 [2CDs: 44.18+47.05]


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This performance was recorded by Decca in the transition period between 78s and LPs. It had life in those formats but didn't emerge on CD until the autumn of 1992: it did not last long in the catalogue before deletion. Given a conductor born and bred in the Viennese tradition, a starry cast similarly immersed by both practise, and in two cases birth, one wonders why this set hasn't been more in the forefront when considering this work? The answer could be the lack of any dialogue. Idiomatic as it may be, it is more in the Volksoper tradition than the larger voiced and bigger orchestra versions that quickly followed, particularly those under Ackermann and Karajan.

Assessing its own virtues, this is a pleasing light performance of what is, after all, an operetta not an opera. Krauss conducts with fizz and Hilde Gueden is suitably minxish as Rosalinde. Wilma Lipp is an agile Adele although her voice is a little harsh on the microphone. Patzak is a convincing Eisenstein and the Alfred of Dermota is suitably Italianate. The Orlofsky is too feminine and lady-like to be convincing. The recording is rather flat to my ears, lacking depth and warmth, even allowing for its age.

The booklet contains a very good track related synopsis. As an example of the Viennese tradition of the time the issue has value. For little more expenditure one can get much more of the work and in the most modern sound. It should also be noted that this performance has also been issued by Pearl, at mid price, with the addition of an abridged version of Lehár's Zarewitsch with Rosewange and the young Della Casa. I have not, however, been able to assess the quality of those transfers.

Robert J Farr

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