on 10 January 2006
This is a recording which you can simply never tire of. Overflowing with youthful freshness and yet so polished that, it its more intesely romantic moments, it sweeps us into another world entirely. The dialogue is not drawn out and the operetta seems to dance from scene to scene as if there were no gaps at all between the numbers. This must be the 'Merry Widow' as audiences heard it in 1905 and it is crystal clear why it conquered the world.
on 15 February 2012
An excellent version - full of vim and beautifully sung and orchestrated. I had purchased some years ago, an English version, but this transcended that by a huge distance. It is truly mesmerising and totally addictive: such purity of tone and clarity. A bargain! I'd give it six stars.
on 3 October 2001
For decades operette has had bad reviews with many music lovers. Finally a disc has appeared that dispels any notion of fat, overdone music making only fit to your grandparent's taste. Gardiner gives a dazzling peformance with a star cast. The Wiener Philharmoniker play at their very best in a stunningly natural recording. It is difficult to single out any singer for special qualities, because the whole cast sings extremely well. One can raise a brow when hearing Cheryl Studer in a role that does not suit her completely. However, this does not mar the impression that you hear this piece for the first time as it was meant to be heard by Léhar. Almost at the same time as this recording a rival disc appeared with English forces, conducted by Franz Welser-Möst. Even if this record has Thomas Hampson as its strongest asset, it does not have the same sparkling quality. The applause of that live-recording seems strangely out of order. Gardiner makes the most out of it, supported by the engaded singing of his Monteverdi Choir. If you do not have any operette disc yet, hear this one and enjoy it.
on 31 December 2012
This is a fantastic recording of The Merry Widow. I have always loved this piece, and I decided to hold out for a classy recording, having heard a track of this one on the radio.It was a good decision! The singing is glorious, and all the tempi feel just right. The romantic tracks are spine-tinglingly lovely. I was lucky enough to find a second-hand copy on Amazon, but it would be well worth paying the full price.
on 6 November 2012
John Eliot Gardiner brings his wide-ranging and very considerable talents to Viennese operetta. The performance bubbles along, and all the distinguished soloists acquit themselves idiomatically. The sound seems to me to be a problem: it is as if one is hearing the singers from behind the orchestra - yes, but NOT with the orchestra in a pit. It almost sounds as if the soloists are coming from an adjacent room with the door half-closed! Some of the spoken dialogue is very difficult to make out. Orchestral detail, though, is fresh and clear (as it would be, of course, in such circumstances.) This might not bother some listeners, but I find it very disquieting.
on 7 December 2011
Having decided to purchase this particular version of The Merry Widow, largely based on reviews by Amazon customers and the reasonable price, I checked out the 'used' versions on offer and discovered several at a very low price and described as in very good condition. I purchased one of these. The disc arrived within the published timescale and it appears to be like new. The booklet that comes with it showed no signs of ever being opened (ie no dog eared corners or creases). The recording is excellent and I consider my purchase a real bargain.