Whether as introductory music to an opera or as an independent concert work, the versatile overture attracted considerable attention from composers in the nineteenth century. That some of the most engaging music was poured into this supple form is demonstrated in this collection, and the diversity of their themes and colors show how these pieces maintained interest and survived, even when their associated stage works became obscure. Suppé's rousing Light Cavalry Overture has endured, even though the operetta has fallen into neglect. The same fate befell Reznicek's Donna Diana and Saint-Saëns' La princesse jaune, though the overtures remain favorites in the concert hall. The overture to Offenbach's La belle Hélène -- actually an arrangement by Friedrich Lehner -- is still frequently performed, as is Glinka's overture to Ruslan and Ludmilla. Though Goethe's Egmont is rarely presented with Beethoven's incidental music, the powerful overture is a concert staple. Of works that have stayed intact in the operatic repertoire, Strauss' Gypsy Baron and Rossini's Thieving Magpie both have delightful overtures encapsulating their best tunes. Berlioz's thrilling Roman Carnival was partially extracted from his opera Benvenuto Cellini, but was composed to stand on its own. Joseph Silverstein and the Utah Symphony present their brilliant performances in home-theater surround sound, an innovation by Intersound.
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AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
|La belle Hélène, operetta in 3 acts|
|La princesse jaune, opera (opéra-comique) in 1 act, Op. 30|
|Egmont, incidental music, Op. 84|