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Ziehrer: Die Drei Wunsche / Mogg, Vogel, Ellen, Serkin, Espina, Et Al

Release Date: 07/28/2009 
Label:  Cpo   Catalog #: 777404-2   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Carl Michael Ziehrer
Performer:  Lorena EspinaDonna EllenValery SerkinKlement Slowioczek,   ... 
Conductor:  Herbert Mogg
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Schönbrunn Music Theater OrchestraSchönbrunn Music Theater Choral Soloists
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 45 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

ZIEHRER Die drei Wünsche Herbert Mogg, cond; Volker Vogel ( Hummel ); Ariana Strahl ( Laura ); Donna Ellen ( Baronin Besebeck ); Valery Serkin ( Fedor ); Lorena Espina ( Zingra ); Klement Slowioczek ( Fogosch ); Anna Siminska ( Read more class="ARIAL12i">Käthe ); Michael Heim ( Fritz ); Alfred Berger ( Kilian Wegerer ); Schönbrunn Music Theater O & Ch cpo 777 404 (2 CDs: 104:33)

Every so often a composer dominates a musical era so completely that other composers are left in the creative dust and end up as footnotes in musical history. In the world of Viennese operetta, Johann Strauss II was probably the best known until Franz Lehár carried the torch into the 20th century. Carl Michael Ziehrer (1843–1922) was a contemporary of both Strauss and Lehár. Ziehrer’s music was very popular, and most people today have never heard of him. Ziehrer was also very prolific. He wrote 22 operettas (some sources say 24), over 70 marches, and over 400 dances. (Name two!) Some of his music appears in anthologies of Viennese works; and Naxos/marco polo has issued a four CD compilation of “Selected Dances and Marches.”

Johann Strauss II felt sufficiently threatened by the popularity of Ziehrer’s music that he hoped to minimize Ziehrer’s chances of success by offering some very catty criticism. Well, judge for yourself. This cpo recording of Ziehrer’s 1901 operetta Die drei Wünsche (“The Three Wishes”) offers abundant proof that Ziehrer could write a good tune. The opera is full of effervescent melodies, jaunty marches, and ingratiating waltzes. It is very much in the Strauss, Zeller, Suppé light-hearted style rather than the heart-on-sleeve, semi-serious romances of the post-war Lehár. To my ears, Ziehrer’s music sounds less like Strauss and more like Zeller and Suppé and, here and there, a bit like Arthur Sullivan. Die drei Wünsche falls pleasantly on the ears. If it doesn’t challenge the listener to appreciate musical complexities or unorthodox tonalities, it stands on its own tuneful charms. It’s the kind of music where you bob your head with a smile and let your foot or hand keep time with the beat.

The story is typical operetta fare of disguises, tangled romances, arranged and thwarted marriage plans. The plot device of a theatrical troupe assuming disguises en masse is similar to G&S’s The Grand Duke . Unfortunately, a libretto is not included with the recording, just a rather detailed synopsis. There are 30-plus minutes of dialogue scattered throughout the Prologue and two acts. Most of the 11 tracks of dialogue are under three minutes; only one is slightly longer than five minutes. The dialogue is lively and never sounds like actors reading from a script with muted voices. Since the dialogue is tracked separately from the music, it can easily be programmed out.

I confess to being unfamiliar with the singers. They all have fresh, attractive voices and do justice to Ziehrer’s infectious melodies. This is a studio recording that has the sizzle of a live performance. If you like Viennese operetta from the golden age, I think you might enjoy Die drei Wünsche. I did.

FANFARE: David L. Kirk
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Works on This Recording

Die drei Wünsche by Carl Michael Ziehrer
Performer:  Lorena Espina (Mezzo Soprano), Donna Ellen (Soprano), Valery Serkin (Tenor),
Klement Slowioczek (Bass), Volker Vogel (Tenor), Cornelia Zink (Soprano),
Alfred Berger (Baritone), Anna Siminska (Soprano), Michael Heim (Tenor)
Conductor:  Herbert Mogg
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Schönbrunn Music Theater Orchestra,  Schönbrunn Music Theater Choral Soloists
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1901; Vienna, Austria 

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