Although Franz Lehár is fondly remembered for the operettas The Merry Widow and The Land of Smiles, he did write others which remain to be rediscovered and 1924’s Cloclo is one of them. Dating from 1924, Cloclo had a reasonable run in Berlin and in Vienna. In the it would played for 92 performances at Drury Lane in London for 92 in an English production featuring the great Richard Tauber. Recordings were made of several songs and orchestral excerpts at the time, after which it sank without trace – until now when it receives a fine recording on CPO (and there’s also an American production of it in English.)

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Described by critics as a comedy which evolves around the title character, Cloclo is a freethinking French singer with the obligatory ‘bob cut’ and her various lovers which in Lehar ‘s fashion range from a her penniless true love, Maxime, and the older and delightfully named Severin Cornichon who is the mayor of Perpignan. Even the mayor’s wife is sympathetic to Cloclo who she believes to be her husband’s daughter. The plot is a lot more risque than the Widow, no doubt appealing to the theatre goer during the Weimar period.

Lehár’s score entices with the touches of jazz, blues and the tango to stand alongside his usual waltzes, yet by the time of its premiere the composer’s peak had passed. However, there is much to admire in this welcome CPO recording which follows on the tail of recent performances at a Lehár festival in Germany. And here is a recording where works welcome – from the sympathetic conducting of specialist, Marius Burkert to its light-hearted cast, not only Cloclo herself (Sieglinde Feldhofer), but her impoverished Maxime (Daniel Janz), not to mention her ‘sugar daddy’ Cornichon (Gerd Vogel).

With its intoxicating potpourri of light music styles, Cloclo deserves a place in the repertoire, perhaps amongst student productions.

Composer: Lehár
Work: Cloclo
Performers: Sieglinde Feldhofer s, Gerd Vogel bar, Franz Lehar Orchestra/Marius Burkert
Label: CPO 7777082 (2CD)

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