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Johann STRAUSS I (1804-1849) Edition, Volume 4: Waltzes, Polkas, Galops Melodies from the Opera, La Muette de Portici, (Auber), Op. 32 (1829) Charming Polka, 0p. 31 (1827) Vive la Danse! (Waltz), Op. 47 (1831) Fortuna Galop, Op. 69 (1834) Cheerful too at a serious Time (Waltz), Op. 48 (1831) Original Parade march (Vienna Bürger-March Nr. 1) (1832) Life a Dance or Dance a Life! (Waltz), Op. 49 (1831) Caprice Polka 0p. 6 (1827) Cotillons nach beliebten Melodies from the Opera, La Straniera (Bellini), Op. 50 Venetianer-Galopp, Op. 74 Hof-Ball-Tänzer (Waltz), Op. 51 Galopp Nr. 1 (La muette de Portici, Auber) Bajaderen-Walzer, Op. 53 Galopp Nr. 2 (La muette de Portici, Auber) Slovak Sinfonietta of Zilina/Ernst Märzendorfer Rec. Zilina, 1999. DDD
Marco Polo 8.225254
[66:36]

 

The pieces on this disc date from the elder Johann Strauss's early-middle period of composition, between 1828 and 1834, a period when two operas by Auber and Bellini were at the height of their popularity.

Of the Strauss family, Johann the elder, always made an effort to maximise the topical tunes of the day in his ballroom dances. Judging from what I find on this disc, there is no doubt that Strauss was particularly skilful in this type of arrangement and weaves the best pieces into his music. The melodies flow seamlessly from one to another and are not just 'selections' where a 'bolt-on' approach is often applied.

Those who know Auber's La Muette de Portici (The Dumb Girl of Portici) will enjoy the three tracks devoted to it. The opera came to Vienna a year after its première in Paris in 1828. In Muette, Auber introduces a ballet in Act I which is nicely worked in with arias and chorus numbers. Elsewhere, the melodies are not so easily recognisable because they provide thematic orchestral accompaniment within the opera. Nevertheless, they are a delight to hear [tr.1]

It is likely that Strauss made arrangements for a large number of the operas and operettas so a CD might have been devoted specifically to them. There are other Strauss Marco Polo/Naxos CDs that contain other opera melodies, which should be well worth tracking down. Certainly if they are written with the skill evident here, they will be rewarding. The non-operatic tracks on this disc are pleasant enough but are in some ways similar to the polkas and waltzes found elsewhere in this series.

The Slovak Symphony Orchestra give us a bright performance, with engaging warmth in a near-ideal ambience. The recording nicely picks out the soaring, clear-cut first strings and balanced woodwind where the piccolo adds suitable brilliance without being obtrusive.

Raymond J. Walker

 


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