‘Der Zigeunerbaron’ (The Gypsy Baron) completes a trio of Strauss-family recordings made by Clemens Krauss for Decca in the early 1950s. Like ‘Die Fledermaus’ (482 7379) and his New Year Concerts (482 7364), it is now reissued by Eloquence, in a new remastering with a fresh editorial retrospective from Mike Ashman on the special chemistry between composer, conductor and orchestra.
After ‘Die Fledermaus’, it took Johann Strauss another eleven years to rediscover the recipe for a hit operetta. Having recorded it in September 1950 and issued the records in January 1951, however, Decca waited just months before returning to the Musikverein in April 1951 to tape Der ‘Zigeunerbaron’ with the same conductor, orchestra and lead singers. At the time and ever since, it has been felt that here was a combination of unrepeatable artistic finesse, not only with regard to Krauss’s fiery yet elegant conducting but also the lead tenor of Julius Patzak, to the manner born.
Krauss (1893–1954) had learnt counterpoint with Richard Heuberger, composer of ‘Der Opernball’ and gone on to cut his opera-conducting teeth in Brno and then Szczecin with not only Mozart and Wagner but also the most durable examples of Parisian and Viennese operetta. Meanwhile Patzak had studied composition with Franz Schmidt – both of them Viennese to their fingertips – but was largely self-taught as a singer which may partly explain his inimitably plangent timbre. Singing Saffi opposite him was Hilde Zadek who was a State Opera favourite throughout her career: her Donna Anna is a highlight of the Viennese ‘Don Giovanni’ conducted by Rudolf Moralt a few years later, also reissued by Eloquence (480 7181).
JOHANN STRAUSS II
The Gypsy Baron
Graf Peter Homonay: Alfred Poell
Conte Carnero: Karl Dönch
Sándor Barinkay: Julius Patzak
Kálman Zsupán: Kurt Preger
Arsena: Emmy Loose
Mirabella: Steffi Leverenz
Ottokar: August Jaresch
Czipra: Rosette Anday
Saffi: Hilde Zadek
Pali: Franz Bierback
FIRST COMPLETE RELEASE ON DECCA CD
Recording Producer: Victor Olof
Balance Engineer: Cyril Windebank
Recording Location: Grosser Saal, Musikverein, Vienna, Austria, April 1951
Remastering Engineer: Chris Bernauer
Original Decca LP Release: LXT 2612–13
‘The subtlety and variety of Clemens Krauss’s conducting […] is a continual delight, as is the playing of the orchestra. Patzak gives a performance of wonderful subtlety and charm as Sandor Barinkay … this is a thoroughly agreeable set.’ Opera magazine, April 1952
‘A truly excellent selection, with Patzak’s inimitable Sandor Barinkay, and Krauss proving he was as wonderful a conductor of Strauss Johann as of Strauss Richard.’ Opera magazine, August 1960