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.
and informative notes.