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Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Josef STRAUSS (1827-1870)
Edition - Vols. 25 and 26: Polkas, Waltzes, Quadrilles, Marches
Edition. Vol. 25

Die Windsbraut, Polka schnell, Op. 221
Die Tanzinterpellanten, Walzer, Op. 120
Margherita, Polka française, Op. 244
Pauline, Polka mazur, Op. 190
Soll und Haben, Walzer, Op. 68
Faust-Quadrille, Op. 112
Hesperus Balltänze, Walzer, Op. 116
Mein schönes Wien, Albumblatt

Heilmethoden, Walzer, Op. 189
Euterpe, Polka mazur, Op. 82
Die Soubrette, Polka schnell, Op. 109
Edition - Vol. 26

Bachanten-Quadrifie, Op. 8
Tarantel-Polka, Op. 6
Mille fleurs, Polka française, Op. 4a (by C. Spina)
Mille fleurs, Polka mazur, Op. 4b (from the original score)
Die Zeisserin, Walzer, Op. 114
Gallopin, Polka schnell, Op. 237
Prinz Eugen-Marsch, Op. 186
Sturm-Polka, Op. 75
Das musikalische Osterreich, Austrian Potpourri

Slovak State Philharmonic Orchestra/Michael Dittrich, Christian Pollack
Rec. House of Arts at Kosice, Slovakia. Sept/Oct 2001
Vol. 25 MARCO POLO 8.223664 [67.04]
Vol. 26 MARCO POLO 8.223679 [50.56]



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Recent releases from Marco Polo seem to take the world of the Viennese waltz very seriously. Josef Strauss was overshadowed by his elder brother Johann Strauss the younger, partly because of being dogged by ill health. Yet his output was considerable and judging from the catalogue entries under-recorded.

Josef Strauss like his brother would have been taught harmony and musical style by his father the celebrated Johann Strauss whose reputation spread through court circles from country to country like wildfire. Like his brother he concentrated on writing for the more lucrative ballroom dances. Unlike his brother, Josef's output did not venture into music different from his waltzes, polkas and quadrilles. His compositions, as judged by these CDs, are more mellow and not as robust as those of Johann Strauss. A finer degree of orchestration is detected which makes me think he could have written good operettas. Apart from his illness maybe the smaller output is also due to the extra care taken in composing. The Johanns turned their dances out like hot cakes with original melodies, yet with stock orchestration.

Josef Strauss is best known for his most popular waltzes like Music of the Spheres and Village Swallows (Marco Polo 8.223619) and popular polkas like Without a Care (Marco Polo 8.223563). This does not mean to say that the less popular are in any way inferior and those on these CDs are equally charming. To me the less robust texture of this brother is very pleasing.

Vol 25: Try The Wind's Bride polka [tk.1] and La Soubrette polka [tk.11] with its staccato choppiness. It is highly reminiscent of the Tritsch-Tratsch polka (Johann) and must have provided the framework for inspiration. The Hesperus Ball waltz is highly original and was written for a ball where the three Strauss brothers would each dedicate a piece each year. In this it is clear that Josef wanted to show that he could write as equally good a piece as the others, and one that would stand apart. It is quite delightful. Another of the highlights of the disc is the Faust quadrille [tk.6], which demonstrates how Gounod's music can be expertly adapted to the ballroom. Despite this Josef sadly makes no attempt to link the medley's individual sections.

Vol 26: The numbers on this disc are more robust than those found in the previous volume. Of particular interest is the energetic Tarantela polka (Tarantella misspelt?) [tk.2], written amongst his first batch of dances in 1855. Another engaging one is the romantic Siskins waltz [tk.5] with its haunting opening before flowing into a waltz of orthodox treatment. The CD rounds off with an extended piece, a pot-pourri of national Austrian songs and dances.

This again shows Josef's inability to link tunes with an easy transition that retains the flow.

Under Christian Pollack’s direction the performance are good. There seems to be some absence of vitality in Vol. 25; not an issue for Vol.26. I cannot make up my mind whether this is due to some lethargy in the playing under Dittrich in Vol. 25, or to improved microphone placing giving better presence in Pollack's Vol. 26 which was recorded just one month later. The same orchestra sounds very different.

The notes, written in English, German and French give detailed background to the numbers, but carry no section on the background of this lesser known member of the Strauss family.

Those who enjoy the atmosphere of the Vienna New Year’s Day broadcasts will enjoy these volumes. Volume 25 contains the better and more varied pieces whilst Volume 26 provides better performances.


Raymond Walker



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