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 (ELQ4827379) and his New Year Concerts (ELQ4827364), it is now reissued by Eloquence, in a new remastering and 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 from a few years later, also reissued by Eloquence (ELQ4807181).
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
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