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Franz von SUPPÉ (1819-1895)
Die schöne Galathée
– Overture [7:19]
Dichter und Bauer – Overture [9:13]
Boccaccio – Overture [7:16]
Leichte Kavallerie – Overture [6:40]
Banditenstreiche – Overture [6:19]
Pique Dame – Overture [7:19]
Die Frau Meisterin – Overture [7:11]
Ein Morgen, ein Mittag und ein Abend in Wien – Overture [8:07]
Münchner Rundfunkorchester/Ivan Repušić rec. 2018, BR Munich
BR KLASSIK 900326 [59:29]

Franz von Suppé must have been one of the most prolific Austrian operetta composers of the 19th century, yet most of his compositions – including some 30 operettas and 180 ballets and other stage works – are forgotten or neglected these days. His compositions formed an intrinsic part of the Viennese golden age, and luckily some have remained a regular feature in the city’s musical life to this day. His overtures to Dichter und Bauer (1846) and Leichte Kavallerie (1866) are still well loved, and rightly so.

This CD, a compilation of some of the overtures to his operettas, comes in anticipation of Suppé’s 200th birthday next year. He was born in Dalmatia in Austria-Hungary where he began to compose from an early age and studied the flute and harmony. He moved to the capital as a young man. Amongst his early compositions are the Missa Dalmatica and a Roman Catholic Mass. He moved to Vienna in the first place because the offer to conduct at the Theater in der Josefstadt, where he was even given the chance to stage his own works. Eventually, Suppé wrote music for over a hundred productions at the Theater in der Josefstadt as well as for other venues. In later life, he shifted his interest from stage works to the composing of marches and concert overtures, as well as revisiting the sphere of sacred music. All of these compositions fell very much into obscurity, including most of his many operettas. Thankfully, this compilation features both well-loved overtures as well as less familiar ones.

It is only fitting that a compatriot (as it were) of Suppé, the Croat Ivan Repušic, who holds the baton of the Münchner Rundfunkorchester since 2017, conducts this recording. Repušic studied conducting at the Zagreb Music Academy. He was music director of the Split Summer Festival from 2006 to 2009, and the Dubrovnik Summer Festival from 2010 to 2012. He gained experience in the conducing of opera in Germany at the Hamburg State Opera, Semperoper Dresden, Komische Oper Berlin, and Staatsoper Hannover. In addition, he holds a post as Adjunct Professor at the Academy of Fine Arts at the University of Split.

The Münchner Rundfunkorchester plays very well, but Repušic’s sound conducting seems to lack a bit of sensitivity in a couple of instances. It is all very spirited and has a drive to it, but as the music itself is so very marchy that it would occasionally have benefited from a more sedate approach. The booklet comes in German and English. The text is in a rather large font, which makes for easy reading, albeit hushing up the fact that a bit more content would have been desirable.

This recording is unlikely to contribute anything to altering the neglect of Suppé’s non-operatic works. It focusses on what Suppé is still most remembered for – his overtures. However, it makes a strong point in showing there are good reasons why these should be part of the repertoire and kept alive. It is a very handy way either to remind one of the quality and spirit of his most cherished compositions, or as an introduction to Suppé’s operatic output.
Max Burgdörfer


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