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Franz von SUPPÉ (1819-1895)
Die schöne Galathée (Beautiful Galatea) [6:22]
Pique Dame [7:30]
Leichte Kavallerie (Light Cavalry) [6:29]
Dichter und Bauer (Poet and Peasant) [9:25]
Ein Morgen, ein Mittag, ein Abend in Wien (Morning, Noon and Night in Vienna) [7:31]
Boccaccio [6:41]
Daniel AUBER (1782-1871)
The Bronze Horse [6:44]
Fra Diavolo [7:22]
Ferdinand HÉROLD (1791-1833)
Zampa [7:23]
Hector BERLIOZ (1803-1869)
Le Carnaval Romain [8:17]
Detroit Symphony Orchestra/Paul Paray
rec. stereo 1959-62
ALTO ALC1372 [74:07]

Ten old-fashioned light-music overtures in classic recordings at bargain price from Alto. Allowing for the free-standing Berlioz, these have to date survived the operettas they preceded although the labels - CPO and Capriccio included - have done their bit to restore the full works. These light-hearted and high-spirited champagne overtures were very much of the shellac 78 era. Dan Godfrey recorded both Zampa and The Bronze Horse in the 1920s. During the 1950s Decca worked in Paris on similar material with Albert Wolff.

These classic overtures exercised their influence widely: you can hear this in Foulds' overture Le Cabaret and in Khachaturian's Masquerade to mention but two instances. Paray was with the Detroit orchestra (1952-63) long enough to make these staples of the catalogue for Mercury. The core of this disc's programme is to be found in a Mercury disc although from that Auber's Masaniello has been discarded and in its place Alto have given us Zampa and Carnaval Romain.

Paray keeps the pressure on and then piles on more. This can be heard in the final minutes of Die schöne Galathée. His spit and polish performances yet open the door to plenty of Gallic-style and operetta effervescence. At the start of Light Cavalry there is a hint of coarseness in the brass fanfares but stiff-necked strut and crashing bombast are there to be relished. The stormy brass of Morning, Noon and Night in Vienna are forthright and unapologetic. String solos in that overture and in Dichter und Bauer are evidence of well-tempered soulful skills from the orchestra's principals. Rest assured though, Paray finds a surfeit of lightning and zest.

If you want modern sound and Suppé then go for the idiomatic and accomplished Järvi on a very generous Chandos disc. It seems that beyond these bonbon overtures Suppé wrote so much more: Marco Polo recorded at least six volumes of Suppé overtures - now that's dedication. Whatever his birthplace and family origins Suppé was a Viennese giant mentioned in the same breath as the city's Waltz and Polka royalty.

As for the two Auber overtures, they bounce along with beaming smiles. Listen to the fluttery woodwind as it trips along at 2:33 in The Bronze Horse and the exuberance of Fra Diavolo, surely influenced by Beethoven's Seventh Symphony. We hear much more of Hérold's music these days. Quite apart from La Fille mal Gardée there are now recordings of the comic opera Le Pré Aux Clercs and the piano concertos. His fluttery Zampa lent a life-raft, keeping his name afloat over years of neglect, as did Reznicek's Donna Diana overture. The Berlioz overture stands a little to one side of this company. It's a concert staple that has never really left the concert stage let alone the radio schedules and record catalogue. Paray has the piece fairly galloping along¸ simultaneously hemmed in and liberated by zephyrs voiced and zipped along by the woodwind. Strange how in this version there are a few moments where Berlioz seems to have influenced Tchaikovsky.

Again, we are in James Murray's safe hands for the useful liner note which is in English only.

Rob Barnett


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