Franz Bauer-Theussl

Emmerich Kálmán & Franz Lehár: Die Schönsten Operetten der Welt

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After years of relative quiet on the classical front, the budget German ZYX label surfaces once again with the compilation Die Schönsten Operetten der Welt (The World's Most Beautiful Operettas). This consists of what German record companies have long called Querschnitt -- excerpts -- from Lehár's The Merry Widow and Paganini along with Kálman's Countess Maritza and Gypsy Princess. These are old German recordings, led by the ubiquitous Franz Bauer-Theussl leading the Vienna Volksoper, made in the 1950s and '60s, having previously appeared in countless guises on a bouquet of cheap labels going back into the era of LPs; the two discs in this set have been issued on single discs by ZYX as well. They are decent performances with generally good casts, although the sound quality is antiquated and tends to be a little bright and over-reverberant. There's no arguing against the none-too-dear asking price, and ZYX manages to come up with a snappier front cover this time compared to its past, ultra-cheap-looking issues. On the other hand, fully viable, more up-to-date alternatives exist for everything presented here and consumers deep into operetta likely already have these recordings. For beginners in operetta, this is OK, but you can still do better, especially in works such as The Merry Widow and Gypsy Princess.

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