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Leichte Muse - Von Zemlinsky bis Gershwin
Ildikó Raimondi (soprano)
Junge Philharmonie Wien/Michael Lessky
rec. 2016, Vienna Konzerthaus
Sung texts enclosed but no translations
GRAMOLA 99173 [53:23]

Born Ildikó Clara Szabo in Arad in Romania, she was First Prize Winner in the operetta category in the prestigious International Hans Gabor Belvedere Singing Competition in Vienna in 1988, and it was as an excellent Hanna Glawari in Die lustige Witwe I heard her at the Volksoper in Vienna the following year. Since 1991 she has been a member of the Vienna State Opera and also had an international career, both in opera and concert. On the present disc she lets her hair down and indulges in some lighter repertoire and she is as fresh and glittering as I remember her from 30 years ago. She may have to work a little harder but she does it with great elegance and taste – and her pianissimos are truly magical. The repertoire is light but largely unhackneyed. How often do we hear Zemlinsky’s songs for instance? The opening Liebe und Frühling is charming, and later on she treats us to In der Sonnengasse – which is still more attractive – and the humorous Herr Bombardil, who ate so much and grew so fat, that when he “fell in the grave the maggots became fatter”. There is even a World Premiere Recording here in the shape of Zemlinsky’s Lustspiel-Ouvertüre, a quite entertaining piece with clever orchestration but in the long run too boisterous. Pure orchestral is also Ernst Fischer’s Perlender Champagner (Sparkling Champagne), quite typical German light music from the 1930s, joyful, melodious, professional. Fischer is probably best known for his orchestral suite Südlich der Alpen (South of the Alps). Orchestral is also Gershwin’s overture to Strike up the Band, elegant and entertaining and very well played by the young musicians in the Junge Philharmonie Wien, where all the players are between 17 and 27.

Zemlinsky’s most famous pupil, Arnold Schönberg (who also became his brother-in-law) is represented by two of his cabaret songs – or Brettl-Lieder as they are known in German. Gigerlette has indeed become very popular – and rightly so – but the setting of Schikaneder (of Zauberflöte fame) is also utterly attractive. Both are sung with freshness and elegance.

Nico Dostal’s music is not heard very often today, I’m afraid, but in the 1930s he was much in vogue. Best known is Clivia, his first operetta from 1933, and Die ungarische Hochzeit from 1939. I reviewed a complete recording of the latter a couple of years ago, and though the story is complicated and unlikely, the music is attractive. And so is this aria from Clivia, which is enticingly sung by Ildikó Raimondi.

Finally, I was very happy to see that she included two songs by Franz Lehár. Not the Vilja Lied, unfortunately, but two relative rarities: the very attractive Schöne Rose from Wiener Frauen and a number from Eva. And yes, she sings them as wonderfully as she sang the Vilja Lied thirty years ago!

A truly delicious disc! A pity though that the playing time is so parsimonious. There could have been room for the Vilja Song as well!

Göran Forsling

Alexander ZEMLINSKY (1871 – 1942)
1. Liebe und Frühling (From Posthumous Songs, orch. by Michael Lessky) [1:58]
2. Lustspiel-Ouvertüre (Comedy Overture) [10:26]
Nico DOSTAL (1895 – 1981)
3. Ich bin verliebt (from „Clivia”) [5:24]
Franz LEHÁR (1870 – 1948)
4. Schöne Rose (from „Wiener Frauen“) [7:46]
5. Wär es auch nichts als ein Traum vom Glück (from „Eva“) [3:29]
Ernst FISCHER (1900 – 1975)
6. Perlender Champagner [4:05]
7. In der Sonnengasse [1:48]
8. Herr Bombardil [1:48]
(from Posthumous Songs, orch by Michael Lessky)
Arnold SCHÖNBERG (1874 – 1951)
9. Gigerlette [2:04]
10. Arie aus dem “Spiegel von Arkadien” [3:30]
(from Vier Brettl-Lieder orch by Scott Dunn)
George GERSHWIN (1898 – 1937)
11. By Strauss [2:59]
12. Overture to “Strike up the Band” [7:57]

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