> STRAUSS J Waltzes, polkas Boskovsky [TB]: Classical Reviews- May2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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The music of the Strauss family remains one of the most popular areas of the orchestral repertory. This remarkable family of six composers created nearly fifteen hundred compositions, notable chiefly for their glorious melodies, but also for their wonderful mastery of the orchestra.

Willi Boskowsky (1909-1991) remains the world's most famous interpreter of this repertoire. Even more than a decade after his death his influence is still profound, his reputation every bit as strong. And this set of five CDs from French EMI tells us why. The feeling for the style is palpable, everything absolutely in its right place, tempi and phrasing immaculately judged.

Of course Boskowsky had recorded much of this music before in performances with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra for Decca. Those recordings received enthusiastic acclaim, while some of these EMI performances with the 'pick-up' recording band, the Johann Strauss Orchestra of Vienna, have had a less universal praise. To some extent that came down to the recordings, but they have come up with great freshness in the new transfers and doubts have been swept away. Warm and rich tone have now become allied with detail as and when required. Such is modern technology and all praise to the EMI engineers. As for the orchestral playing it is committed and idiomatic, and one suspects that the Viennese orchestral musicians on parade here are those same musicians who play for the Philharmonic and the Opera too.

With more than five hours of music in the collection, there is inevitably a mixture of well loved classics - they are all here - and the interesting byways of what as an enormous body of music.. And that is precisely how it should be, because when it is well played this music is hugely enjoyable for the first-time listener. One small worry for the English speaking and reading purchaser of these discs is that the notes are only in French. They are also relatively brief. Therefore the marvellous fund of entertaining stories which lies behind the music is not available unless research is done elsewhere, and this is a pity, even at so appealing a price in the bargain range.

Throughout the set it is clear that both orchestra and conductor (Boskovsky always conducted from the leader's desk with the bow) know and love the music. For the performances are lovingly shaped and warmly stylish, as required. In this context it is only possible to suggest examples as an arbitrary insight into the excellence and fun on offer, but it still must be done. Try the exciting cutting edge of the Thunder and Lightning Polka (CD2) as an example of the fast and spirited numbers, or the quite wonderful warmth of phrasing as Roses from the South (CD1) unfolds its wealth of glorious melody.

The glories of the Strauss family's imaginative and colourful orchestration are heard to good advantage here, and the architectural mastery of the larger waltzes of Johann and Josef is delivered by Boskovsky with the utmost assurance. For example, both the Emperor Waltz and Tales from the Vienna Woods are more than ten minutes in duration, veritable tone poems of structural strength and subtlety. There may arguably be more powerful versions of these scores in the catalogue, but there are none which are more genuinely Viennese.

Terry Barfoot

Johann STRAUSS II (1825-1899)
Josef STRAUSS (1827-1880)
Eduard STRAUSS (1835-1916)

CD1: Johann STRAUSS [59.30]
An der schönen blauen Donau, Walzer, Opus 314
Roses du Sud, Walzer, Opus 388
Wiener Blut, Walzer, Opus 354
Fruhlingstimmen, Walzer, Opus 410
Künsterleben Walzer, Opus 316
Kaiserwalzer, Opus 437
G'schichten aus dem Wienerwald, Walzer, Opus 325
CD2: Johann STRAUSS [73.32]
Accelerations Walzer, Opus 234
Banditen Polka, Opus 378
Lagunen Walzer, Opus 411
Leichtes Blut Polka, Opus 319
Explosions Polka, Opus 43
Schatz Walzer, Opus 418
Im Sturmschritt Polka, Opus 348
Unter Donner und Blitz Polka, Opus 324
Overture: Karneval in Rom
Wein, Weib und Gesang Walzer, Opus 333
Maskesug, Polka Français, Opus 240
Du und Du Walzer, Opus 367
Kreuzfidel, Polka Français, Opus 301
Karnevalsbilder Walzer, Opus 357
Karnevalbotschafter Walzer, Opus 270
CD3: Johann STRAUSS II [64.04]
Grüá aus Osterreich, Polka Mazurka, Opus 359
Vom Donaustrande, Polka rapide, Opus 356

Alpenrose, Polka mazurka, Opus 127
Unter der Enns, Polka rapide, Opus 121

Overture: Cagliostro in Wien
Overture: Das Spitzentuchder Königen
Donauweibchen Walzer, Opus 427

Auf Ferienreisen, Polka rapide, Opus 133

Reiselust, Polka français, Opus 166

Express, Polka rapide, Opus 311
Wiener Frauen Walzer, Opus 423
Kuá-Walzer, Opus 400

Wo man lacht und lebt, Polka rapide, Opus 108
Faschingbrief Polka, Opus 203
Auáer Rand und Band, Polka rapide, Opus 168
Mit Vergnügen, Polka rapide
CD4: Johann STRAUSS II [58.42]
Morgenblätter Walzer, Opus 279

Buchstaben Polka

Feuilleton Walzer, opus 293

Sport-Polka, Opus 170

Flugschriften Walzer, Opus 300
Gedankenpflug Walzer, Opus 215
I-Tipferl-Polka, Opus 377
Die Leitartikel Walzer, Opus 273
Episode Polka, Opus 296
CD5: Josef STRAUSS [56.44]
Dorfschwalben aus Osterreich Walzer, Opus 164
Im Fluge Polka, Opus 230
Delirien Walzer, Opus 212
Vorwärts Polka, Opus 127
Die Schwätzerin Polka, Opus 144
Ohne Sorgen Polka, Opus 271
Feuerfest Polka, Opus 269
Dynamiden Walzer, Opus 173
Frauenherz Polka, Opus 258
Aquarellen Walzer, Opus 257
Jockey Polka, Opus 278
Mein Lebenslauf ist Lieb' und Lust, Walzer, Opus 263
Johann Strauss Orchestra of Vienna
Willi Boskovsky

Rec 1980-1985, Baumgartner-Kasino, Studio Rosenhügel, Polyhymnia Sudio, Vienna
EMI FRANCE 5 74528 2 (5CDs)

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