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Johann STRAUSS I (1804-1849)
Complete Edition Volume 8
Tausendsapperment-Walzer, op.61 [07:27]
Ballnacht-Galopp, op.86 [01:53]
Der Frohsinn, mein Ziel, Walzer, op.63 [08:04]
Paris-Polka [03:24]
Robert-Tänze, op.64 [10:15]
Marianka-Polka (attrib) [02:16]
Elisabethen-Walzer, op.71 [08:42]
Militär-Quadrille [06:42]
Cotillons nach beliebten Motiven aus der Oper “Der Zweykampf”, op.72 [06:54]
Versailler-Galopp, op.107 [01:51]
Rosa-Walzer, op.76 [07:32]
Gitana-Galopp, op.108 [02:40]
Slovak Sinfonietta Žilina/Christian Pollack
rec. 25-27 February 2005, Fatra Concert Hall, Žilina, Slovakia. DDD
MARCO POLO 8.225284 [67:38]


If anyone still thinks Johann Strauss the father was of little account beside at least two of his sons, the chirpy “Tausendsapperment” waltz should be enough to make them change their mind. The notes, by the way, give full details as to why this waltz is called the “Devil Take It”. As I have said before when reviewing this series, Strauss senior may not have had the symphonic breadth of Johann II or the gentle melancholy of Josef, but he had a bright bonhomie that is its own reward.

Indeed, the trouble for the reviewer who has been following this series is that by now there is little to add. The composer himself is unfailingly delightful and extracts a kaleidoscope of inventive colours from his smallish orchestra. Several of these pieces are based on themes from then-popular operas – the Robert of the “Robert-Tänze” is Meyerbeer’s “Robert le Diable” – but somehow he makes them all sound like tunes of his own.

The various Marco Polo series dedicated to the other members of the Strauss family were shared between a range of conductors, good, bad and indifferent. The reviewer could therefore do a useful job separating the discs worth anybody’s attention from the just about acceptable ones and the ones that only a die-hard completist would want. This series has so far been shared between two conductors. Christian Pollack may not be a great conductor but he loves the repertoire and the orchestra seem to be thoroughly enjoying themselves under him. The other conductor, Ernst Märzendorfer, is not normally counted among the conducting greats either, but he is a vastly experienced musician in a wide range of music and his arrival resulted in a considerable improvement in the orchestral response, an improvement which has largely been maintained in subsequent Pollack-conducted volumes, including this one. Occasionally there’s a spot of wind intonation that I suspect Märzendorfer would not have passed but there’s really nothing to disturb our enjoyment. Furthermore, both conductors have a non-interventionist, dance-oriented approach which is ideal for a complete edition. So I can’t say more than that this new volume maintains the level of the others. If you intend to buy just one or two volumes, then maybe one of those under Märzendorfer has that little touch of something extra, but if you’re following the series you can confidently add this.

Excellent recording and informative notes.

Christopher Howell


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