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“Dein ist mein ganzes Herz”
16 Oct 2007

“Dein ist mein ganzes Herz”

Okay, okay, I freely admit this up front: I am not inordinately fond of operetta. Just thought you should know. All the more remarkable then that I found myself listening to this new recording several times over.

“Dein ist mein ganzes Herz”

Simon Keenlyside, Angelika Kirchschlager, Tonkuenstler- Orchestra Noe, Alfred Eschwe, conductor

Sony Classics 88697119082 [CD]

19,95 Euro  Click to buy

Or perhaps not remarkable at all when you take into account the considerable talents of Angelika Kirchschlager and Simon Keenlyside. Fans of this pair (count me in) and/or operetta should revel in their fine renditions of predictable standards along with some delectable excerpts that are less performed. Strauss, Lehar, von Suppe,and Kalman are all well represented, of course, alongside a pair of jewels from works by Milloecker and Stolz.

The recital kicks off with the duet “Weisst Du Es Noch” (“Die Csardasfuerstin”) that alternates playful patter with a lushly expansive and deeply felt “haunting refrain.” The duo establishes their impeccable credentials at once, displaying sound technique, naturally beautiful instruments, clear diction, compatible partnering, and complete command of the material and style. It is doubtful that either artist has performed all, or perhaps any of these roles in a staged production, yet each seems immersed in the material, conferring each selection with an appropriate characterization.

The many waltz numbers do tend to have a certain (albeit lovely) aural sameness to them, but that is not the fault of the artists. Still, von Suppe’s 3/4-time “Mia Bella Fiorentina” (“Boccaccio”) offers some diversity of mood, not to mention language. And both singers show imagination and seriousness of purpose in quite successfully creating a fresh take on each piece.

My personal pick of the mezzo’s offerings would have to be the hushed pleasure she lavishes on “Hab’ Ich Nur Deine Liebe” (“Boccaccio” again). The underlying tango rhythms of the aria from Kalman’s “The Violet of Montmartre” (oh, that again!) buoy the baritone to perhaps his best and most nuanced reading in the collection.

Did the world really need another traversal of “Ich Lade Gern Mir Gaeste Ein” (“Chacun a Son Gout”), “Viljalied,” or “Meine Lippen Die Kuessen So Heiss”? Perhaps not. But Ms. Kirchschlager is idiomatic and persuasive on them, and the first does serve to bring a needed bit of cheeky variation in the material. If the “Vilja” does not have quite the freedom and panache in the upper reaches that some lyrico-spinto sopranos have brought to it, and if “Meine Lippen. . .” does not have the hedonistic abandon that Anna Netrebko brought to it recently in Baden-Baden, they are nonetheless beautifully voiced.

Among his other always enjoyable arias, the baritone charms us with a delightfully sly “Da Geh’ Ich Zu Maxim” (“Die Lustige Witwe”) marked as much by virile full-throated phrases as it is by playful, hushed, and coy asides. The CD’s titular “Dein Ist Mein Ganzes Herz” finds Keenlyside (standing in for the usual tenor) in rapturous command of all the schmaltz, crooning, and tonal outpouring needed for maximum effect in bringing the whole affair to a thrilling close.

The Tonkuenstler-Orchester Noe under the secure leadership of Alfred Eschwe is an able partner in these highly enjoyable, and eminently listenable results offering pliable phrasing, nice solo work, and solid rhythmic pulse as required.

Operetta. Like it or not, you probably just aren’t ever going to hear these tunes better sung. Maybe that is why “The Merry Widow” waltz is now stuck in my head? Hell, I may just play the whole thing yet again and rejoice in the guilty pleasure that two outstanding artists have perpetrated a highly infectious recording.

James Sohre

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