Franz Lehar (1870-1948) has been described as, among other things, " a musician of his time in the full sense of the term : typical of the early 20C in the richness of his orchestration (employing a divided orchestra, as did Richard Strauss) and in the smoothness of his harmonic and melodic art, which have earned him - referring to his great Italian friend - the nickname of the 'Puccini of Operetta' ".
Although Lehar was, both in his birth, and his style, at the crossroads of Germanic / Central European / Slavonic influences, he always had his eyes turned toward Paris. When settled in Vienna, he nevertheless listened to, not just, the repertoire of Parisian operetta, but also to Debussy, whom he loved.
The triumph of the first work on the two CDs, "The Merry Widow" ("La Veuve Joyeuse"), was to consolidate the pre-eminent position, occupied by Viennese operetta, in the hearts of the theatre-going European public. It remains, to this day, an uncontested high-spot of light repertoire.
Disc One : Merry Widow, by Lehar (version rec. 1960) :-
Act One (21:56) : five tracks [ 1)-5) ]
Act Two (16:11) : four tracks [ 6)-9) ]
Act Three (3:55) : two tracks [ 10) & 11) ]
"Paganini" concerns the love affair between the titular violinist Niccolo Paganini, and Elisa Bonaparte, the arts-loving younger sister of Napolean. It is set in the Tuscan city of Lucca, central Italy.
Disc One : Paganini, by Lehar (version rec. 1962) :-
Act One (21:20) : Seven tracks [ 12)-18) ]
Disc Two : Paganini (cont.d) :-
Act Two (17:41) : six tracks [ 1)-6) ]
Act Three (5:33) : three tracks [ 7)-9) ]
"The Land of Smiles" ("Le Pays du sourire") was Lehar's operetta with an Oriental setting, composed in 1923. It achieved in France a prodigious success, nearly equalling that of "The Merry Widow".
Disc Two : The Land of Smiles, by Lehar (version rec. 1956) :-
10) Overture & Intro (4:31)
Act One (19:33) : five tracks [ 11)-15) ]
Act Two (24:31) : seven tracks [ 16)-22) ]
Act Three (6:24) : two tracks [ 23) & 24) ]
Both CD are in VG+ condition.