> Josef Strauss - Edition Vol 22 [PLS]: Classical CD Reviews- Jun2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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Josef STRAUSS Edition Vol 22
Einzugs Marsch; Veterans, Eccentrics, Coincidentals and Flinserin (Sequins) waltzes; polkas Patti, Die Kosende, Lock and Elfen; Rendezvous and Sofien quadrilles.
Slovak State Philharmonic Orchestra (Kosice)/ Karl Albert Geyer
MARCO POLO 8.223624 [62’26"]


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The sheer size of the output of the members of the Strauss family never ceases to amaze me. One has to remember, however, that a high proportion of that output and particularly that of the brothers Johan II, Josef and Edward, had a very short life in public esteem. This was often a matter of weeks or at most a few months, before a piece was superseded in the Strauss orchestra’s repertoire by something newer. Even if a dance movement was published for piano, as often happened, the sheet music was played in Viennese drawing-rooms for a short period before being consigned to the depths of the piano stool. A few popular titles remained, and remain, in the public view.

Only in our own day, with its passion for completeness, have many of these dances been exhumed for series like this Marco Polo one, which has now reached Volume 22 in its presumably complete survey of the music of Josef, reckoned, in melody, harmony and sheer craftsmanship, the finest of his generation of the Strausses. This disc has eleven tracks: a march, four waltzes, four polkas (embracing both "schnell" and "mazurka" types) and two quadrilles.

To the best of my recollection, all were new to me and I enjoyed listening to them, though none displaces in my affections. Josef’s better known waltzes and polkas. But then so often the best known in any composer’s output is indeed the best. The Einzugs march marked the return home of the Austrian army in 1864, after it had, in conjunction with the Prussian army, overcome the might of Denmark (no contest, surely?). Of the four waltzes, Veterans is a tribute to Radetzky’s soldiers of 1848 while the Eccentrics is not at all eccentric as to its music, which is rather conventional; most attractive is the charming Flinserin. The polkas are enjoyably rhythmic and certainly do not outstay their welcome. One of them remembers the prima donna Adelina Patti; another (Polka of the Elves) is deliciously witty. Both quadrilles are, as quadrilles often have a habit of being, spirited music.

The performances, by the Slovak State Philharmonic of Kosice under the experienced Karl Albert Geyer are thoroughly acceptable and they have many previous Strauss issues to their credit. The recording is also very acceptable, and generally speaking, the CD is recommendable to devotees of the Strauss legacy. Others might have preferred this disc and the whole series to have been issued at Naxos price. Is there a chance that the earlier volumes can now start to be reissued on the Naxos label?

Philip L Scowcroft

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