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  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    



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AVAILABILITY Johann Strauss Society

Spirit of Vienna
Johann STRAUSS II
(1825-1899)
Reiche Mädchen
Overture [8:33]; Fanny Elssler Overture [9:25]
Johann STRAUSS III (1866-1936)
from operetta "Katz und Maus": Dragoner March [3:00]; Leonie Waltz [9:17]; Comme il faut, French Polka [4:17]
Siegfried TRANSLATEUR (1875-1944)
Traumveloren Waltz [8:07]
Paul LINCKE (1866–1946)
from operetta "Casanova": Casanova March [2:44]; Casanova Waltz [8:57]
Alfons CZIBULKA (1842-1894)
Von der Hochschule, Polka Mazurka [4:27]
Edmund EYSLER (1874-1949)
from the operetta "Schützenliesel": Schützenliesel Waltz [8:14]
Richard EILENBERG (1848-1925)
J'y pense Gavotte [3:08]
Joseph HELLMESBERGER (1855-1907)
from operetta "Das Veilchenmädel": Veilchenmädel Waltz [9:19]
Orchestra Die Flotten Geister/Christian Pollack
rec. Brno, Czech Republic, 3-6 December 2005
JOHANN STRAUSS SOCIETY [79:35]



This disc is filled with neglected overtures and dances in the Viennese tradition. The Strauss family churned out a formidable amount of music for the dances and balls they were employed to play. The exposure brought their music into popularity. Their accomplished style was picked up by other composers in Austria, Germany and Denmark in the hope of winning lucrative returns. Some of those obscure composers trying their luck at the Viennese style are found on this disc, their compositions successfully mimicking the Straussian idiom.
 
The recording has been produced with a warm ambience and considerable clarity for the sections of the orchestra. Professor Pollack generally sets a sensible pace for the pieces and the players respond superbly to his direction.
 
I very much like the Dragoner march , with its Sousa feel. It would make an ideal Monty Python Liberty Bell sound-a-like! The operetta, Katz und Maus (Cat and Mouse) was the only operetta written by Strauss III. It achieved a dismal 17 performances and a considerable loss of money. This is one of three pieces rescued from the ill-fated score. Perhaps the Leonie waltz is somewhat pedantic and too long at over nine minutes with little change of thematic content. Both this and the French polka, Comme il Faut (As it should be) might have been taken at a much faster pace by Pollack to make them less lethargic. In fact, Czibulka’s Von der Hochschule polka nearly grinds to a standstill at times and conveys little of the vitality of a polka related in the title: ‘Of the High School’.
 
Translateur’s Traumverloren waltz is interesting for he is a composer largely forgotten. Yet in the notes we are told that his waltzes circulated worldwide. Perhaps the banning of his music from 1934 by Hitler caused his name to be forgotten, for I had not heard of him. I find that he is poorly represented in the CD catalogue, so this track is particularly welcome.
 
Best known for his Norddeutscher Lloyd Polka, Lincke was the father of the Berlin school of operetta and left a string of stage works that brought him popularity around the turn of the century. Represented here are two numbers from his operetta, Casanova. Of the two, the long waltz (nine minutes) is the most inventive and uses the orchestra in a modern way with endearing chirpy effects.
 
The notes, in English and German, make interesting reading yet there are corners of information I would have liked to have known more about as well as dates for the operettas. This is a well-filled disc of premiere recordings. The Johann Strauss Society is active in Britain and the Czech Republic and with strong links in Vienna. They have eleven sponsored CDs available and their site is worth looking at.
 
Raymond J Walker

 


 


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