A Viennese Evening Johann STRAUSS II(1825 - 1899)
Overture: Die Fledermaus (1874) [9:27] Franz LEHÁR(1870 - 1948)
Gold and Silver Waltz (1905) [8:50] Oscar STRAUS(1870 - 1954)
My Hero (from Chocolate Soldier) (1908) [5:40] Carl ZELLER(1842 - 1898)
Don’t be Cross (from Master Miner) (1894) [4:48] Franz LEHÁR
On my Lips, Every Kiss is like Wine (from Giuditta) (1934) [6:12]
Franz von SUPPÉ(1819
Overture: Beautiful Galatea (1865) [7:38] Johann STRAUSS II
Roses from the South, op.388 (1880) [8:42] Eduard STRAUSS(1835 - 1916)
Bahn Frei! Polka, op.45 [2:53] Emmerich KÁLMÁN(1882
Sylvia’s Entrance (from Czardas Princess) (1915) [3:22] Franz LEHÁR
Vilja (from The Merry Widow) (1905) [6:36]; Czardas (from Gypsy
Love) (1910) [4:45] Johann STRAUSS II
Unter Donner und Blitz, Polka Schnell, op.324 (1868) [3:32] Johann STRAUSS I(1804 - 1849)
Radetzky March, op.228 (1848) [3:31]
Sophie Bevan (soprano)
Young Musicians Symphony Orchestra, James Blair
rec. live, 30 September 2009, St John’s, Smith Square, London.
DDD YMSO (no catalogue number) [76:02]
This is a nicely unusual collection of Viennese music, for it
goes further than the usual Strausses, father and two sons,
and Franz Lehár, and brings in both older and newer compositions.
The young musicians of the orchestra play with a real spirit
and feel for the period. If James Blair isn’t Willi Boskovsky,
he still shows a sympathy with the music, and realises that
a relaxed approach is best.
The Overture to Die Fledermaus gets things off
to a good start, but, probably because the band hadn’t
warmed up, the great waltz, which makes up the middle section,
doesn’t quite have the swing it should. Things are put
right with Lehár’s Gold and Silver Waltz
which goes very well indeed, with a good swing and a marvellously
uninhibited percussion section. In both these tracks there are
some vocal interruptions but whether it’s the conductor
or some nutter in the audience I don’t know. My money’s
on James exhorting his players to greater heights. If so, he
succeeds! It won’t bother you after you’ve heard
it a couple of times. The Beautiful Galatea Overture
has a nicely jaunty cheekiness to it, and the orchestra offers
a fulsome response in the big tune. Roses from the South
is well paced and Bahn Frei! is as raucous as you like.
Unter Donner und Blitz starts in a rather polite manner,
but soon gets going with the entry of the cymbals, then it’s
a marvellous romp of a performance.
Sophie Bevan sings her items with a real fervour, never overdoing
the emotion, for instance in Lehár’sOn
my Lips, Every Kiss is like Wine you can hear a slight sob
in her voice, but it’s the merest hint, and not overdone
as Gigli had a bad habit of doing. Perhaps she is over-generous
with the vibrato, but she can sustain her line above a very
full orchestration. Sounding every inch the opera singer she
is, her contribution makes a big impact and is most welcome.
Incidentally, the opening of the Czardas from Gypsy
Love could be a less intense, but equally zigeuner, cousin
of the opening of the Boston Pops Orchestra’s famous recording
of Jacob Gade’s Jealousy.
This recording was made at a live concert, and there’s
a small amount of applause at the end of each piece, which is
no problem. The audience joins in for the final Radetzky
March and I wonder why it is this piece, above all others,
which evokes such a response? No matter. This is a fine performance
which rises to the occasion of major crowd-pleaser and audience
This is a very pleasant disk, with good playing. There are a
couple of rough spots but not so much as will be disturbing
to you and a very clean recording. This is most enjoyable, and
a very good organisation to support. It receives no support
from the government or Arts Council.
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