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Franz von SUPPÉ (1819-1895)
Die schöne Galathée (1865) [7:21]
Dichter und Bauer (1846) [9:14]
Boccaccio (1879) [7:17]
Leichte Kavallerie (1866) [6:41]
Banditenstreiche (1867) [6:19]
Pique Dame (1864) [7:19]
Die Frau Meisterin (1868) [7:11]
Ein Morgen, ein Mittag, ein Abend in Wien (1844) [8:07]
Münchner Rundfunkorchester / Ivan Repušić
rec. 2018 Studio 1, Bayerischer Rundfunk, Munich
BR KLASSIK 900326 [59:29]

The last Franz von Suppé album that I reviewed was a 2012 live recording of his rarely heard Requiem (1855) on Profil (review). Now another Munich based label, BR Klassik, has released an album of eight of Suppé’s overtures taken from his considerable output of some fifty stage works, predominantly operettas. The release celebrates the two-hundredth anniversary of the birth of Suppé in 2019.

Dalmatia-born, Suppé found great fame with his operettas. After moving to study in Vienna (then the centre of the operetta world) Suppé shortened and Germanised his birth name, Francesco Ezechiele Ermenegildo Cavaliere Suppé Demelli, changing it to Franz von Suppé. Today Suppé’s operettas are occasionally performed but his music is most likely to be encountered through overtures such as Light Cavalry, Beautiful Galatea, Morning, Noon, and Night in Vienna and Poet and Peasant, and marches notably O du mein Österreich (O You My Austria!). The famous Vienna New Year’s Day Concerts often include the overtures serving to expose Suppé’s music to a wide international audience. Suppé did write in other genres and composed a small number of sacred works, including the Requiem.

For this studio release Ivan Repušić, principal conductor of the Münchner Rundfunkorchester, has chosen a collection of eight of Suppé’s most popular overtures. Repušic was born in Croatia and one senses a special connection with Suppé who was born in the same country, then part of the Austrian Empire. Repušic conducts with care and attention and the Münchner Rundfunkorchester respond with fresh and sparkling playing that avoids any excessive level of sentimentality. My favourite overtures here are the renowned Light Cavalry so stirringly played; there is lovely flow to the Poet and Peasant, with its agreeable cello solo, and Repušić gives a thrilling performance of Pique Dame (conducted by Gustavo Dudamel in the 2017 New Year’s Day Concert). Repušić gives a glowing rendition of Morning, Noon, and Night in Vienna (conducted by Zubin Mehta in the 2015 New Year’s Day Concert) and there’s a memorable performance of the uplifting Boccaccio (given its New Year’s Day Concert debut by Riccardo Muti in 2018). Recorded at Studio 1 of the Bayerischer Rundfunk in Munich, the sound quality is first class, especially clear and well balanced. Written by Guido Johannes the booklet essay is both extremely helpful and an interesting read. At under sixty minutes, two or three additional overtures or marches could have been included, maybe Isabella, Das Modell or Fantinitza, which would have increased the release’s appeal.

In the catalogue, there are several albums of Suppé’s overtures and marches, including: ASMF/Sir Neville Marriner/EMI; Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal/Charles Dutoit/Decca; Detroit Symphony Orchestra/Paul Paray/Mercury; RSNO/Neeme Järvi/Chandos; LPO/Sir Neville Marriner/Philips and Wiener Philharmoniker/Zubin Mehta/Sony. For the enthusiasm and buoyancy of the playing my first choice is Charles Dutoit on Decca. Nevertheless, this new album conducted by Ivan Repušić on BR Klassik is close behind and a worthwhile addition to a light classics collection.

Michael Cookson
Previous review: Max Burgdörfer


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