> Gala Night - Opera and Operetta [RW]: Classical CD Reviews- Oct 2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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Opera and Operetta


G. Rossini, Overture La Cenerentola
G. Rossini, Una voce poco fa
G. Puccini, Nessun dorma
M.Glinka, Overture Ruslan und Ludmilla
P. Tschaikowsky, Song Lyubvi vsye
G. Bizet, Farandole
G. Rossini, Siete voi
T. Mackeben, Overture Rubens
J. Offenbach, Leuchte heller Spiegel mir
E. Künneke, Pasodoble
E. Künneke, Immerzu singt mein Herz
E. Kalman, Overture Die Csardasfurstin
E. Kalman, Ganz ohne Weilber
J. Offenbach, Can Can
E. Kalman, Jaj, Mamam Bruderherz
J.Strauss, Unter Donner und Blitz
J. Williams, Star Wars
C.M. Schonberg, Nur für mich
C.M. Schonberg, Sun and moon
G. Gershwin, I got rhythm
E. Morricone, Once upon a time
J. Kander, Cabaret
A.L. Webber, Jesus Christ Superstar
A.L. Webber, Love changes everything
S. Sondheim, Send in the clowns
P. Gerard, Rififi
H. Arlen, G. Gershwin, L. Bernstein, J. Kander, I. Berlin, Medley
Vesselina Kasarowa, Jewgenij Nesterenko and others
SWR Rundfunkorchester Kaiserlautern/Peter Falk
Rec. Alte Opera, Frankfurt; Philharmonie Cologne; 1995/97/98/99
HÄNSSLER CLASSIC CD92.020 [CD1 73.40; CD2 54.33]

This compilation set of Opera, Operetta and Musicals is a first class production, but one has reservations of having such contrasting items as Greminís aria from Eugene Onegin packaged with Star Wars and Jesus Christ Superstar. Each of the two CDs in themselves contain a good programme with the addition of pieces one normally does not hear.

With regard to each programme, I find the choice of the Opera and Operetta disc a good one: it covers a wide pot-pourri of romantic pieces. Rarities of the likes of Mackebenís Overture to Rubens and the Künneke and Kálmán numbers are most welcome. To hear the overture to The Gypsy Princess played professionally for a change is a delight in itself. Out on a limb is Greminís aria (from Eugene Onegin) which is of a much heavier mould and in my opinion is ill fitting to the mood of the rest of the disc. This first disc of the set is ideal for someone wanting to dip their toe into operatic delights for the first time or others wanting further enjoyment with a relaxing moment.

The Musical disc provides a mixed bag of items, ranging from stage to screen. Despite the generation difference between Gershwin and Sondheim, the numbers sit well together. Three comparative unknowns are the Morricone film tone poem Once upon a time, with harmonica solo; Kanderís zippy song Cabaret, delivered with much character; and Gerardís bluesy Rififi, again with harmonica solo.

The soloists are first class throughout, yet the notes do not tell us which artist performs each number.

Peter Falk conducts with panache and, judging by this recording, has trained a very responsive orchestra.

The warm brass and crisp string triplets in the Opera CD are a delight; and the versatility in playing the modern numbers in the musical CD is excellent. The tempi are often brisk and energetic throughout. (Try Künnekeís Pasodoble CD1 tk10). One could be forgiven for thinking the contents were of one concert performance, the spacious recording and enjoyable acoustics are so well matched from track to track; in fact they span five years. Lack of credit for the engineers is perhaps an unfortunate oversight.

The notes in German, English, French and Spanish cover detailed information about Peter Falk and the SWR Radio Orchestra. An odd misprint of track numbers may at first have the reader baffled.

Raymond Walker

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