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Johann STRAUSS II (1825 - 1899)
On the Beautiful Blue Danube, Op. 314 (1867) [10:54]
Tales from the Vienna Woods, Op. 325 (1868) [14:16]
Voices of Spring, Op. 410 (1883) [6:32]
Artist’s Life, Op. 316 (1867) [9:08]
Wine, Women and Song, Op. 333 (1869) [11:37]
Roses from the South, Op. 388 (1880) [8:28]
London Philharmonic Orchestra/Antal Dorati
rec. Kingsway Hall, London, December 1966.
Boston Pops Orchestra/Arthur Fiedler
rec. Symphony Hall, Boston, December 1975, ADD.
DECCA ELOQUENCE 476 7864 [60:56]


I sometimes feel sorry for the compilers of collections such as this. In some cases they will struggle to find suitable material for issue. As most people know, Arthur Fiedler was a prolific recording artist, but most of his work was done for RCA. So when Eloquence decided to issue a disc of Strauss waltzes, they must have looked around for something unusual. They came upon the current collection of waltzes conducted by Antal Dorati, long unavailable on CD. Unfortunately there was not enough material to make a CD for the modern market. So what to couple these Dorati performances with?

Universal must have had a wealth of other waltzes available, from artists such as Karajan, Boskovsky, Abbado and Knappertsbusch to name just a few but most of these are already available. Some years ago, Arthur Fiedler issued a disc of Strauss waltzes on Decca as one of their Phase 4 issues. This probably gave Eloquence sufficient material to justify CD issue. The only problem was that Fiedler recorded exactly the same repertoire that was on the Dorati disc except Roses from the South. Only one additional work could be added to the Dorati items and this brought the total playing time to just over an hour.

That it is short playing time for repertoire of this kind is certain, as this disc will have to compete with similar collections with longer playing times. Whether it is still good value depends upon the material released and the price of the disc. In this instance Eloquence have got it right.

Neither Dorati nor Fiedler would be my first choice as a conductor of Strauss waltzes, but both acquit themselves admirably and this selection has all the popular favourites. The London Philharmonic does not possess the tonal splendour of either the Berlin or Vienna Philharmonics, but nevertheless they play as to the manner born. It would be difficult to fault these readings, and Decca’s Kingsway Hall is kind to both orchestra and conductor. One thing you can usually expect with Dorati is lively playing, and there is no concern here. The London Philharmonic seems to be enjoying itself in repertoire that is somewhat out of the ordinary for this very English orchestra.

The Boston Pops acquit themselves very well in their item. Such is the quality of Decca’s recording that there is very little to choose between the two. Fiedler’s ability to get his American band - the Boston Symphony Orchestra minus their first desk players - to play with fervour is well known.

The only criticism is that the inclusion of further waltzes, such as The Emperor, Vienna Blood, or 1001 Nights in Vienna would have given collectors all of the popular Strauss waltzes on a single disc. Such are the vagaries of repertoire planning.

If this repertoire suits you this is a disc that can be confidently recommended particularly so given the price.

John Phillips



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