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Johann STRAUSS I (1804-1849)
Edition – Volume 4
Schwarz'sche Ball-Tänze im Saal zum Sperl: Cotillons nach beliebten Motiven aus der Oper: Die Stumme von Portici (Auber), Op. 32 (09:17), Charmant-Polka, (01:57), Vive la danse! Walzer, Op. 47 (05:40), Fortuna-Galopp, Op. 69 (02:07), Heiter auch in ernster Zeit, Walzer, Op. 48 (05:30), Original Parademarsch: Wiener Bürger Marsch No. 1 (02:02), Das Leben ein Tanz oder Der Tanz ein Leben! Walzer, Op. 49 (07:02), Launen-Polka (02:50), Cotillons nach beliebten Motiven aus der Oper Die Unbekannte (La Straniera) (Bellini), Op. 50 (08:17), Venetianer-Galopp, Op. 74 (01:59), Hof-Ball-Tänzer, Walzer, Op. 51 (05:42), Galopp No. 1 aus Die Stumme von Portici (01:21), Bajaderen-Walzer, Op. 53 (08:38), Galopp No. 2 aus Die Stumme von Portici (01:15) Slovak Sinfonietta Žilina/Ernst Märzendorfer MARCO POLO 8.225254 [66:36]

Volume 3 of this series was welcome for the presence on the rostrum of the veteran Ernst Märzendorfer, presenting both composer and orchestra in far more favourable light than the previous efforts under the well-intentioned and capable Christian Pollack. For this reason I selected the disc as one of my records of the year.

How delightful, then, to find Märzendorfer back in charge of volume 4, and once again he obtains both refinement and precision from his small Slovak band, as well as giving interpretations which are authentic in the best sense. Every dance is given its precise dancing tempo, no heavy-handed rubato is allowed to distort either the flow of the music or the shape of the melodies, but if this sounds academic, then each rhythm lilts, bounces, struts or fizzes as required, ensuring that the spirit of the “belle époque” is always present.

This approach seems to me ideal for a complete edition, for we get the music exactly as it is written, both in spirit and in letter. I also suggest that this is an ideal approach for Johann Senior anyway since I don’t honestly think the music would respond to the sort of INTERPRETATION which the likes of Karajan or Carlos Kleiber have applied to Johann Junior or to Josef. Johann Senior is the “Biedermeier” composer par excellence, offering – at least so far in his career, for there are another fifteen years to cover – good-humoured chit-chat, engaging bonhomie, rather than the range and symphonic dimensions of Johann Junior or the appealing melancholy of Josef. Maybe the series has surprises in store, but volume 4 is perhaps more limited in range than volume 3, since it contains quite a few pretty little odds-and-ends without opus number. However, to hear the music played as here is a pleasure in itself, and while, if you can only afford one volume of the four issued so far, I suggest you get volume 3, those who snapped up volume 3 will probably buy this new one automatically, and I am sure they will thoroughly enjoy it. Märzendorfer was 82 at the time of making this recording – I hope Marco Polo intend to keep him busy during his next 82 years.

Good recording and detailed notes.

Christopher Howell



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