Strauss/Korngold: Eine Nacht in Venedig. © 2019 classic produktion osnabrück

CD Spotlight

Hard to Resist

Johann Strauss Junior's 'Eine Nacht in Venedig',
arranged by Erich Wolfgang Korngold and
heard by GERALD FENECH

'Marius Burkert and his fine team of soloists and chorus exude a performance that has subtlety and charm, and the vivid freshness of Korngold's arrangement is brought out with a wistful elan ...'

 

This recording focuses on two very popular composers whose music is different altogether: Johann Strauss Jnr (1825-1899) and Erich Wolfgang Korngold (1897-1957). Strauss, dubbed 'The Waltz King', is the perennial favourite of a legion of admirers for his hundreds of dance pieces that never age. Korngold, a very serious composer of operas, concertos and symphonic works, remains famous for his epic film scores that took Hollywood by storm in the 1930s. So what is the connection that brought them together? At this juncture one must also be reminded that Strauss also composed some seventeen operettas. Unfortunately only The Gypsy Baron and Die Fledermaus achieved success. The rest are either forgotten or, occasionally, one of them manages to see the light of day. One of these lucky ones is Eine Nacht in Venedig (A Night in Venice).

The premiere in Berlin on 3 October 1883 turned out to be a scandal due mainly to maliciously-staged cat calls from one of the balconies. Six days later, the piece got its Vienna premiere. This time 'A Night in Venice' was a great success. The work rapidly made its way round the world, particularly in the lands of the Danube monarchy. New York even staged a performance, but by the end of World War I the piece had experienced only about five hundred performances.

It was clear that a revamp was needed to launch the work afresh. This undertaking was entrusted to the capable hands of Korngold, who immediately started a serious revision in 1923. The German composer not only adapted Ernst Marischka's text, but also changed the original instrumentation and integrated inserts into the work from other operettas by Strauss such as Simplicius (1880). Korngold's revised version was a resounding success.

Listen — Strauss/Korngold: Overture (Eine Nacht in Venedig)
(track 1, 0:01-1:00) © 2019 classic produktion osnabrück :

When it was performed at the Theater-an-der Wien on 25 October 1923, the stage was lavish and magnificent, the new orchestration displayed tonal sophistication and the great tenor Richard Tauber was heard in the role of the Duke in quest of erotic adventures.

Listen — Strauss/Korngold: Hör mich Annina, komm in die Gondel
(Eine Nacht in Venedig)
(track 14, 0:00-0:45) © 2019 classic produktion osnabrück :

In later years Korngold's version even made its way to the stage of the Vienna State Opera. It is this version that is recorded here, taped live at the Graz Opera in March 2018.

Listen — Strauss/Korngold: Karneval ruft euch zum Ball
(Eine Nacht in Venedig)
(track 20, 0:30-1:22) © 2019 classic produktion osnabrück :

Marius Burkert and his fine team of soloists and chorus exude a performance that has subtlety and charm, and the vivid freshness of Korngold's arrangement is brought out with a wistful elan that is hard to resist.

Listen — Strauss/Korngold: Hier ward es still (Eine Nacht in Venedig)
(track 9, 12:55-13:53) © 2019 classic produktion osnabrück :

Champagne stuff through and through.

Copyright © 13 July 2019 Gerald Fenech,
Gzira, Malta

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CD INFORMATION: STRAUSS/KORNGOLD: EINE NACHT IN VENEDIG

 

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