I was disappointed with this recording, although I know it has been well received by others. I will try to explain my dissatisfaction, especially since there is so much to admire in both the singing and orchestral playing. The heart of the problem for me is the interpretation of a waltz tempo that is used characteristically by Lehár, one to which he gives the tempo marking 'valse moderato' (the 'Merry Widow' waltz is the most famous example). It is slower than the usual Viennese waltz, and closer to the English waltz, or Boston waltz (or what is known today as the modern waltz). Der Graf von Luxemburg has several examples of this type of waltz, and none with more emotional impact than 'Bist Du's lachendes Glück', when the couple who are marrying without being able to see one another begin to wonder if thy might be throwing away a chance of happiness that will never come their way again (they are under an agreement to separate immediately afterwards). If this waltz is taken too quickly it loses its sensitivity. Unfortunately, here and elsewhere, tenderness is sacrificed to vivacity, because Eun Sun Kim, the conductor of this Frankfurt Opera performance, appears to relish only the more typical, one-in-a-bar, Viennese waltz tempo. Where there is no waltz rhythm, the instruction 'moderato' is followed--as, for example, for 'Sah nur die kleine Hand'. Otherwise, this is a one-waltz-tempo conductor: Juliette and Brissard's Act 2 duet 'Mädel klein, Mädel fein' is marked 'Temo di Valse' (meaning the usual Viennese waltz) and there's no difference between the performance of that and 'Bist Du's lachendes Glück'. If you want to hear the difference a moderato tempo makes to the latter, then seek out two other available recordings of this operetta, the Willy Mattes EMI recording of the late 1960s, or the more recent Daniel Inbal cpo recording of 2012. I don't mind as much that the march-trio in Act 3, marked 'Tempo di marzia' moves at a pace that would leave most European regiments gasping for breath, and I know many will respond to the energy and enthusiasm of the interpretation as a whole. I am, however, put off by the brisk waltzes, even though I must emphasize that they are not conducted mechanically, and the melodic phrasing is nicely shaped.
This is a dazzling performance of the Lehar classic. Starry casting of Camilla Nylund, Daniel Behle and rising British star Louise Alder among others perform to perfection and the whole is led with energetic and infectious enthusiasm by Eun Sun Kim. Unmissable.