- Franz Lehár and the Music of Happy Dreams [Recommended Recordings]
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28 October, 2012
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Franz Lehár
Recommended Recordings

A Tribute to Operetta - A Franz Lehár Gala
(José Carreras, Placido Domingo, et al; Budapest Philharmonic Orchestra; Marcello Viotti, conductor)
Clocking in at nearly 80 minutes, this CD of Viennese operetta arias should carry a surgeon general's warning against overdosing on sugary confections. The music's grand, though, and with so many favorite operetta hits zipping by, the time flies. Not all the way back to old Vienna, however, since today's all-stars can't challenge memories of Richard Tauber, Josef Schmidt, and other stylish exponents of singing in three-quarter time. But they acquit themselves well, and sopranos Eva Lind and Andrea Rost are especially fetching. Baritone Thomas Hampson is idiomatic and also sounds like he's having fun, while Placido Domingo gives considerable pleasure. José Carreras's fans will be disappointed--he's clueless in Vienna. But for a real treat, listen to Rost's "Meine Lippen" from Lehar's Giuditta. Hot stuff! (review by Dan Davis)

Lehar Conducts Lehar: Overtures, Waltzes, etc
(Zurich Tonhalle Orchestra)

The Merry Widow
(Nicolai Gedda, Otakar Kraus, et al; Philharmonia Chorus, Philharmonia Orchestra; Otto Ackermann, conductor)
This is among the best Viennese operetta recordings ever made. Taped in 1953 as part of EMI-Angel's series of "champagne operettas," it captures the waning years of the Vienna State Opera's postwar ensemble in ways that the same label's 1958 stereo remake did not. The story of rich and royal personages afoot in glamorous Paris is captured in the lilting phrases that hover gracefully around cadences, seconded by conductor Otto Ackermann's flexible, genial tempos that never fall into sentimentality. Among the singers, Elisabeth Schwarzkopf's voice has a special luster here, while Nicolai Gedda is captured at his youthful, vocally flexible best. Erich Kunz teases and charms Lehár's musical lines as Danilo while Valencienne is sung by the little-known Emmy Loose, whose voice has a radiant warmth. Sound quality is as good as mono gets. (review by David Patrick Stearns)


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