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Every day we post 10 new Classical CD and DVD reviews. A free weekly summary is available by e-mail. MusicWeb is not a subscription site. To keep it free please purchase discs through our links.

  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    


 

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Viennese Operetta Gems
Johann STRAUSS II (1825-1899)

Der Zigeunerbaron ‘Als flotter Geist, doch früh verwaist’ Charles Kullman (ten)
Der Zigeunerbaron ‘Vem oss har vigt?’ Jussi Björling (ten), Hjördis Schymberg (sop). Sung in Swedish
Die Fledermaus ‘Mein Herr Marquis’ Elisabeth Schumann (sop)
Die Fledermaus ‘Trinke, Liebchen, trinke schnell’ Franz Völker (ten), Elsa Kochhann (sop)
Eine Nacht in Venedig ‘Lagunenwalzer’ Julius Patzak (ten)
Franz von SUPPÉ (1819-1895)

Boccaccio ‘Hab’ich nur deine Liebe’ Julius Patzak (ten)
Carl ZELLER (1842-1898)

Der Vogelhändler ‘Schenkt man sich Rosen in Tirol’ Walter Ludwig (ten), Lille Claus (sop)
Carl MILLÖCKER (1842-1889)

Der Bettelstudent ‘Ich’hab kein geld’ Franz Völker (ten)
Emmerich KÁLMÁN (1882-1953)

Gräfin Maritza ‘Komm, Zigan’ Marcel Wittrisch (ten)
Die Bajadare ‘Act 1 finale’ Gitta Alpár (sop), Herb Ernst Groh (ten)
Karl Michael ZIEHRER (1843-1922)

Die Landstreicher Sei gepriesen’ Elisabeth Schumann (sop)
Richard HEUBERGER (1850-1914)

Der Opernball ‘In Chambre séparée’ Richard Tauber (ten)
Franz LEHÁR (1870-1948)

Die lustige Witwe ‘Lippen schweigen’ Dusolina Giannini (sop), Marcel Wittrisch (ten)
Zigeunerliebe ‘ Ich bin ein Zigeunerkind’ Joseph Schmidt (ten)
Friederike ‘Oh Mädchen, mein Mädchen’ Franz Völker (ten)
Schön ist die Welt Bin verliebt, bin so verliebt’ Gitta Alpár (sop)
Giuditta ‘Schön wie die blaue Sommernacht’ Jarmila Novotná (sop), Richard Tauber (ten)
Paganini ‘liebe, du Himmel auf Erden' Hilde Gueden (sop)
Nico DOSTAL (1895-1981)

Monika ‘Heimatland’ Anna Frind (sop)
Robert STOLZ (1880-1975)

Zauber der Bohème ‘Ich liebe dich’ Marcel Wittrisch (ten)
Various Orchestras and conductors. Recorded between 1927 and 1949
NAXOS HISTORICAL 8.110292 [61.48]

 

The background information with this disc suggests that it was the success of the German born Offenbach’s works, from his Paris base, that sparked ‘Waltz King’ Johann Strauss II to turn his creative genius to operetta with ‘Indigo’ in 1871. All Strauss’s works in this genre, except his final ‘Ein Nacht in Venedig’ of 1883, were premiered in Vienna. In parallel with, and often rivalling Strauss, several other composers, previously and contemporaneously, were active in Austria and Vienna, there meeting the popular demand for the ‘Viennese’ elements of comedy and singspiel. This CD from Naxos presents a very enjoyable selection of the works of ten composers including several lesser known names. The sources are mainly 1930s from a variety of labels: Columbia, HMV, DG, Odeon, Polydor, Electrola and concluding with a Decca issue dated 1949.

The ability to pillage from such varied sources allows us to hear a wide variety of singers, some little known. Highlights include duets featuring Jarmila Novotná and Tauber (tr.17) singing from Lehár’s Giuditta, Björling and his regular partner Hjördis Schymberg in Zigeunerbaron, albeit in Swedish (tr.2) and Dusolina Giannini and Marcel Wittrisch singing Lippen schweigen from Die lustige Witwe (tr.13). Of the solo items of note are Charles Kullman, (tr.1) and Julius Patzak, (trs.5-6) exemplifying, like Tauber, quality tenor singing with well supported tone and exemplary diction. On the distaff side Gitta Alpárs charming portrayal and appealing tone are a joy, (tr.10, whilst Elisabeth Schumanns contributions, Mein Herr Marquis (tr.2), and (tr.11) from Ziehrer’s Die Landstreicher, recorded ten years apart, illustrate the cruel effects of time on the singer’s light soprano. There are other negatives among the singers with the likes of Joseph Schmidt being rather nasal and throaty for my taste (tr.14) and Anna Frind rather thin of tone (tr.18).

The re-masterings by Peter Dempsey are rather variable with some boxy sounds (tr.18), distortion on soprano high notes, thin string tone (tr.10) and some audible surface noise (tr.7). His sleeve note is well written and informative and all recording dates and sources are given. This CD provides a nice balance between the popular and the lesser known, both composers and singers, in works from a genre that many know and love. As such it is worthy of recommendation, particularly at its modest price.

Robert J Farr



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