JOHANN STRAUSS JR.:  Die Fledermaus
Julius Patzak, tenor (Gabriel von Eisenstein); Hilde Guden, soprano (Rosalinde); Wilma Lipp, soprano (Adele); Anton Dermota, tenor (Alfred); Kurt Preger, baritone (Frank); Alfred Poell, baritone (Falke); Sieglinde Wagner, mezzo-soprano (Prinz Orlofsky); August Jaresch, tenor (Blind); Vienna State Opera Chorus; Vienna Philharmonic Orch/Clemens Krauss, cond.
PREISER 90491 (2CDs) (ADD) TT:  73:23 & 19:27

JOHANN STRAUSS JR.:  Der Zigeunerbaron
Alfred Poell, baritone (Graf Peter Homonay); Karl Dľnch, baritone (Conte Carnero); Julius Patzak, tenor (Sándor Barinkay); Kurt Preger, baritone (Kálman Zsupán); Emmy Loose, soprano (Arsena); Stefanie Leverenz, contralto (Mirabella); August Jaresch, tenor (Ottokar); Rosette Anday, contralto (Czipra); Hilde Zadek, soprano (Sáffi); Frenz Bierbach, bass (Pali); Vienna State Opera Chorus; Vienna Philharmonic Orch/Clemens Krauss, cond.
PREISER 20020 (2 CDs) (M) (ADD) TT:  71:13 & 68:09

This classic performance of Johann Strauss' Die Fledermaus is as perfect as it could be, totally Viennese in concept, a labor of love for all concerned with fine, well-balanced mono sound.  Decca made the recording in September 1950 in Vienna and in 1992 issued it for the first time on CD as part of the their "Historic" series. There is no dialogue and Voices of Spring, recorded July 22, 1950, replaces the ballet.  For lovers of Fledermaus this performance is essential. As the Decca set (425 990) is out-of-print, this mid-priced well-transferred Preiser twin-CD issue fills the void. It is incredible that Preiser didn't fill out the second CD, which has a playing time of less than twenty minutes, with some other Johann Strauss recordings, as Decca did—the latter offered nine waltzes, polkas and marches by the Strauss family, all in studio recordings with Krauss and the VPO recorded in September 1951. Preiser gives a three-page history of the operetta and track listings plus a fine photograph of the entire cast with Krauss at the time of the recording. Decca's presentation was much more elaborate with notes in English, French and German, the libretto in German/English.

A year later, the success of Fledermaus prompted Decca to record the same composer's The Gypsy Baron with another all Viennese cast, Clemens Krauss, the Vienna State Opera Chorus and the Vienna Philharmonic. Again everything sounds just right, but for some reason the exquisite duet with chorus, "Wer uns getraut," sung by Patzak and Zadek doesn't have the repeat—a major loss.  For this set Preiser has included "New Year Concert 1952," a group of nine studio recordings of Strauss polkas, waltzes and marches with Krauss and the VPO.  There's a production problem with these; the booklet lists 16 tracks for CD 2 when there are only 15.  The explanation is that Im Krapfenwald and Eljen a Magyar are combined on track 11.  Neither of these sets include librettos.  While the Fledermaus booklet includes a rather detailed scenario of the operetta, Gypsy Baron does not.

R.E.B. (May 2003)