Notes and Editorial Reviews
Although the recording from the 1950s featuring Nicolai Gedda and Elisabeth Schwarzkopf remains the iconic version of this operetta, and the composer’s own recordings, especially the excerpts with Richard Tauber, are not to be missed, this 1982 release, here condensed for EMI’s midpriced ‘Encore’ series, quietly established itself as the only strong contender from the modern stereo era, abounding in subtle, idiomatic details and fine singing. As with other issues in the series, the original dialogue has been excised, though precious little of musical consequence. You will not find the eight-minute overture, nor the extended act I finale, the opening sequence of the second act, nor about half of the act II finale. What you have is everything else, including all the music from the final act.
Donath’s unique combination of creamy tone and tight vibrato amounts to a keenly controlled and radiant Lisa, girlish in the tea song, tragic in the final confrontation. She is the clear star of this production. Martin Finke gives us a small-voiced Gustl, with hissing sibilants. Brigitte Lindner is a bit heavy-voiced for her part, but with an appealing gleam in her upper register. Their ‘Meine Liebe, deine Liebe’ duet is a bit too driven and hectoring, but that is mostly Boskovsky’s doing. The reprise in act III, however, is touching in its delicacy.
For his part, Jerusalem’s voice has seldom sounded so effortless and flexible, baritonal in its lower register, bright, ringing, and evenly produced. There are some tuning problems at the end of ‘Von Apfelblüten,’ and he shows a tendency to sink flat in his upper register. But he comes through thrillingly in ‘Dein ist mein ganzes Herz.’
As should be no surprise from his many recordings with Vienna orchestras, including the New Year’s concerts, Willi Boskovsky has the idiomatic measure of this style, rubatos shaped naturally, dance numbers rhythmically pointed. His attention to detail imparts an almost symphonic quality to the raucous kaleidoscope of orchestral colors and textures. Lehár’s style can at times seem claustrophobic, but there is a
and exaltation about the orchestral playing and chorus (in the opening of act III) that is downright breezy. No text is provided.
Heartily recommended. My only complaint is that there is insufficient space between individual tracks on the disc.
FANFARE: Christopher Williams