Franz von Suppé: Die Reise um die Erde in 80 Tagen (World Premiere Recording)
Janácek Philharmonic Orchestra, Dario Salvi (conductor)
Recording: The House of Culture, Ostrava, Czech Republic (May 3‑7, 2021) – 51’04
Naxos 8.574396 (Distributed by Naxos of America) – Booklet in English
His ink supply would rapidly disappear...understandably. Franz von Suppé’s output was like pouring an endless glass of champagne: sparkling and effervescent to the tune of 40 bubbly operettas, some parodic in nature; Franz von Suppé was also a master of vaudeville and farces. But he also penned incidental music for traditional theater, including surrealist novelist Jules Verne. During the end of the 19th century, the technological age was spawned, and there was a keener draw towards discovery and exploration. Similar in scope to Georges Méliès, M. Verne wrapped himself around his 1874 Around the World in 80 Days that paraphrased positivistic achievements with daring dashes of adventure, a platform von Suppé so brilliantly used to invigorate his score.
Stripped of its narration, Conductor Dario Salvi passages around the world (via hot air balloon, railroad, steamship, trains and elephants), capturing the harrowing pitfalls and momentous triumphs experienced by eccentric Phileas Fogg through the eyes of the composer. Many times woodwinds were given top billing since the flute was Suppé’s instrument-of-choice, evidenced in his later opera, Il ritorno del marinaio with delightful persuasion. But Suppé succeeded on all fronts to color a particular event, emotion or action of the time. Because this œuvre is particularly condensed, it’s easy to glean Suppé’s menu of choice. While the examples are endless (i.e. flute, oboe, trombone, tam‑tam, clarinet, trumpet), they’re promoted with greater vigor through the percipient exercises of M. Salvi: this sojourn, though expedient and, at times, fleeting, is just as miraculous a discovery as when Michael Todd implemented the widescreen Todd‑AO film format back in 1956. Furthermore, Franz von Suppé repeatedly utilizes Il ritorno with great rigor, and cleanly ends and closes the incidental music with the “Fogg Motif”: von Suppé’s music is economical, thrifty and concise.
Franz von Suppé’s music is infrequent when performed in the United States; however, we now have an opportunity to experience imagination and innovation on a completely new tangent. Highly recommended.