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Franz LEHÁR (1870-1948)
Der Göttergatte - Operetta in three acts (The Husband God) (1904) [121.03]
Juno - Liesl Andergast
Jupiter - Franz Borsos
Amphitryon - Anton Dermota
Alkeme - Henny Herze
Sosias - Fred Liewehr
Charis - Lizzi Holzschuh
Wiener Rundfunkorchester und Chor/Max Schönherr
rec. Vienna, 1945, mono
Plus eight bonus tracks
CPO 777 029-2 [53.50 + 67.13]

Lehár’s Der Göttergatte is something of a curiosity and largely forgotten today save for its sparkling overture. In the Lehár canon it was an early work, first staged in January 1904. The Merry Widow was to follow, the next year, to world-wide acclaim. With Der Göttergatte. Lehár was unenthusiastically approaching Offenbach territory. In it he comically tries to explain the creation of the whole genre of operetta by allusion to classical mythology; this via a reworking of the Amphitryon legend with Lysistrata allusions. The idea was clever and amusing and included such delightful anachronisms as a chauffeur-driven car and a lift to heaven. Nevertheless, although this sort of fluffy nonsense would very successfully fuel the Offenbach satires, it was not really in tune with the Lehár’s more emotional talents. He never considered this sort of setting again.
This CPO recording follows the label’s other operetta albums which are naturally focussed for German-speaking audiences. A considerable proportion of the 2 CDs is taken up with the production’s spoken dialogue - for this is a recording of a broadcast transmitted by German Radio in 1945. Furthermore rather too much of the booklet is concerned with the history of the stage productions and not enough space given to a detailed description of the action. Worse, the booklet’s track-listing does not detail who is singing and this adds further confusion.
The Overture sparkles with numerous appealing tunes: marches and waltzes a hint of burlesque and touching sentimentality. It has to be said though that most of the material is very much in the routine Lehár mould without being particularly memorable. That said, the roguish Cupido-Lied sung by Jupiter is deservedly the hit of the whole operetta. The lilting, sentimental waltz song, duet, Wachst du, Liebche? appeals strongly too and there is a little nostalgic thrill hearing the slurred, heart-throbbing strings of that period again. Altogether this performance, enthusiastically delivered by Andergast, Borsos et al will delight Lehár aficionados.
The second CD includes eight bonus tracks of Lehár songs, and orchestral pieces recorded in the 1930s and 1940s. Amongst these, Herbert Ernst Groh sings An der Saar und amn Rhein; Richard Tauber sings the lovely sentimental Du und ich sind füreinander bestimmt from the film Grossfürstin Alexandra,golden-voiced lyric soprano Ester Réthy sings Wien, du bist das Herz, then there is Lehár himself conducting the Wiener Philharmoniker in an eccentric-sounding Oriental March. Two pieces, for violin and orchestra, round off the album. The first, a Hungarian Dance Fantasy featuring, as soloist, Willi Uhlenhut, is very atmospheric and the solo music is very familiar and delivered with great brio and élan. The final Serenade positively drips with ardent romance and is curiously reminiscent of Korngold.
One for Lehár completists and for, complete enjoyment, for German-speaking fans.
Ian Lace