This is a sparkling collection of 36 operetta selections.
The many composers represented include: Johann Strauss II, Oscar Strauss,
André Messager, Victor Herbert, Emmerich Kálmán;
Franz Lehar; Carl Zeller; Lionel Monckton; Carl Millöcker; Robert
Stolz; Carl Michael Ziehrer; and Richard Tauber. Many of the tunes will
be familiar even if the names are not, like the lovely 'Let me dance
and let me sing' from Die Csárdásfürstin
by Kálmán and 'My Hero' from The Chocolate Soldier
by Oscar Strauss. Favourite operettas are included: The Merry Widow,
Casanova, The White Horse Inn and Merry England
The performances may not reach the peaks achieved by
the Viennese orchestras and singers like Hilde Guedon, Renate Holm,
Gundala Janowitz, Erik Kunz, Werner Krenn and Richard Tauber, nevertheless
the Chandos artists show great enthusiasm and commitment. Marilyn Hill
Smith's light soprano voice is ideal for many of these songs and her
colaratura singing is very impressive in operettas like Der Schätzmeister
(Ziehrer), and Der arme Jonathan (Millõcker) in which
she her voice soars over 'The Doleful Prima Donna.' She is marvellous
as the amusing Sybil (Jacobi) in which she sings the marching
song 'The Colonel of the Crimson Hussars.' Where she is not so successful
is in the later operettas of Lehar where he was approaching the style
of grand opera. In Giuditta a smokier more seductive voice (like
that of Hilde Gueden) is needed to successfully put over 'On my lips
every kiss is like wine.'
Peter Morrison is a strong if adenoidy hero. He colours
his voice so that he sounds extraordinarily like Richard Tauber and
Nelson Eddy when he comes to sing those numbers associated with them
like 'My Heart and I' from Old Chelsea and 'At the Balalaika'
from Balalaika (Victor Herbert) respectively. He is a robust
and ardent romantic hero and a staunch patriot in the stirring 'The
Yeoman of the Guard from Edward German's Merrie England. Morrison
is also charmingly witty, when he muses over his many lady friends,
as he endures the rigours of 'Military Life' from Der Fremdenführer;
and as he despairs about his wife's figure in 'Thin, thin is my Gwendolin'
from Ziehrer's Die drei Wünsche.
The choirs give staunch support as does the
Chandos Concert Orchestra under Barry Knight who points up the often
hilarious subtleties of the music like the orchestral horse laughs that
comment on the heroine's 'Scale Song' from Ziehrer's Der Schätzmeister.
In conclusion I must mention the very impressive rendition
of Johann Strauss's 'The Nun's Chorus and Laura's Song from Casanova.
An enchanting collection.