, July 2001
"Franz von Suppe was born in the Dalmatian town of Spalato (the modern Split). He studied in Italy and later moved to Vienna where he wrote operas and Singspiel and became the premier composer of operettas in the Johann Strauss style. Few of his operettas are now played (but the occasional revivals show how attractive they can be). During the twentieth century Suppe has become mainly known by his overtures, "Poet and Peasant" in particular with a handful of others, became standard repertoire of Brass and Military bands. They were also much appreciated in the days of 78 records as one overture filled a twelve inch disc nicely.
With the LP and then the CD, there have been several collections where the famous overtures were supplemented by a few novelties. In the last few years, Marco Polo has gradually been working through their collection of complete overtures played by the Slovak Philharmonic originally conducted by Alfred Walter and now by Christian Pollack.
The sixth disc in the collection does not contain any familiar overtures (these have appeared in the earlier volumes) but contains several very attractive items. For me the most engaging is the extract from "Journey through the world of fairy tales" this is a miniature tone poem with wonderful fairy-like atmosphere with various contrasting sections. The overture to Dagger and Rose has a very memorable main theme which first appears on the horns. Dame Valentin overture starts with a plaintiff tune on the woodwind and then develops into a riding theme which culminates into an exciting end. The Trouble-Brothers starts with a trumpet call and then becomes quite military in atmosphere - rather reminiscent of Poet and Peasant. Head and Heart has an overture which is very short but almost Mozartian in atmosphere. Subservient and Independent overture after a rousing opening led to a wonderful perky tune with sparkling flute ornamentation. The final item, the Two Pistols overture, is typical of Suppe at his best with an opening drama followed by a lyrical flowing tune which appeared on the trumpets and then developed into a typical Viennese Operetta ending.
Christian Pollack and the Slovak State Philharmonic Orchestra play these overtures with obvious enjoyment and vigour. The recording is good and the disc is attractively presented and includes interesting notes by Keith Anderson.
Overtures were not written with the idea of having a large number played together back-to-back; even when written by a master of the genre such as Suppe they are best sampled individually rather than being listened to as a single concert. The disc can be recommended whole-heartedly to lovers of good tunes presented well."