Neville Marriner

Suppé: Overtures

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Aside from the occasionally revived Boccaccio and Die Schöne Galathée, few of Franz von Suppé's operettas are produced or recorded any longer, even though they were enormously popular in nineteenth century Vienna and made the composer as famous as Jacques Offenbach in France or Gilbert and Sullivan in England. However, Suppé's posthumous career is somewhat more comparable to that of Gioachino Rossini, insofar as his tuneful overtures are still frequently played, while his stage works are not, and it is on the strength of such pop-concert staples as the overtures to Leichte Kavallerie (Light Cavalry) and the Dichter und Bauer (Poet and Peasant) that he is still remembered. These two pieces are widely anthologized, so there is no difficulty finding CDs that include them. This EMI disc is helpful in providing both, along with seven less familiar overtures by Suppé in sparkling performances by Neville Marriner and the Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields. The style of all the overtures is bright, ebullient, and upbeat, with only intermittent dramatic episodes for tension or poignant interludes for a dollop of schmaltz; indeed, these are the moods that come to mind when one thinks of Viennese operettas, and Suppé's music completely fills the bill. EMI's recording is clear and focused, especially in the big climaxes that Marriner and his orchestra bring off with aplomb, but some of the softer passages seem a little muted.

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