Walzer Revolution
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Kontretanz K603/1 [1:09]
Kontretanz K609/1 [1:14]
Kontretanz K609/4 [2:05]
Sechs Deutsche Tänze K571 [10:46]
Johann STRAUSS I (1804-1849)
Radetzky Marsch Op. 228 [3:37]
Erste Kettenbrücke Walzer Op. 4 [6:43]
Schäfer Quadrille Op. 217 [5:49]
Der Carneval in Paris - Galopp Op. 100 [2:33]
Walzer à la Paganini Op. 11 [7:56]
Joseph LANNER (1801-1843)
Pas de neuf nach Severino Mercadante WoO [14:23]
Senhsuchts-Mazur Op. 89 [9:05]
Hans Jörgel-Polka Op. 194 [3:44]
Malapou-Galopp Op. 148a [1:25]
Hexentanzwalzer Op. 203 [9:36]
Marsch (aus dem Ballet Corso Donati) [4:14]
Cerrito-Polka Op. 189 [3:57]
Jagd-Galopp Op. 82 [2:39]
Die Schönbrunner Walzer Op. 200 [9:08]
Concentus Musicus Wien/Nikolaus Harnoncourt
rec. Musikverein, Vienna, 1-6 June 2011
SONY CLASSICS 88697914112 [41:58+58:16]

It will come as no surprise after his success at the New Year’s Concerts in Vienna in 2001 and 2003 that Nikolaus Harnoncourt should take the dance music of that city with proper seriousness. That said, the results, as heard here, go well beyond what he achieved on those two delightful occasions. The use by the Concentus Musicus Wien of period instruments, including ten different types of trumpets and five of clarinets, together with newly prepared editions produces a much less cosy result. The tonal accent is on clarity and distinctiveness of tone rather than on blend or homogeneity. There is no lack of affection in the playing but the brightness and resulting primary colours together with the vigorous rhythms ensure that the listener is more likely to be reminded of actual social dancing than of a well dressed and well heeled New Year audience. All of this is both bracing and appropriate for music written originally for practical dancing rather than simply for listening.
Listening is nonetheless a very invigorating and pleasurable experience. Actual dancing might prove difficult as, for the most part, these are by no means “strict tempo” performances. On the contrary they are affectionate and well considered even if the actual sounds are not always those to which we are accustomed. The brief selection of dances by Mozart is in many ways the pick of the selection. Each is a gem, including items based on music from Le Nozze di Figaro or commemorating battles against the Turks. It is better to savour them rather than take them in the larger quantities to which discs devoted entirely to Mozart’s dances tempt the listener.
Inevitably in a collection like this there are works by Johann Strauss. On this occasion all are by Johann Strauss senior, starting with the Radetzky March before moving on to less familiar items. Even that March is played in what is described as the original version involving several changes to the score as usually heard. These result, like the rest of the programme, in greater clarity and more transparent colours. The whole of the second disc is devoted to the music of his contemporary, Joseph Lanner. His music has had an occasional airing at the New Year’s Day concerts. There have even been a few discs solely of his music but there is plenty of room for more, especially of this quality. These works show off the quality of playing of Concentus Musicus, especially that of the woodwind in the first piece which is based on music by Mercadante. The other pieces are well varied and include the usual novelty item, in this case the Malapou-Galopp in which the players are required to sing nonsense (?) words. Whilst it would be unrealistic to describe his music as being anything like the equal of either Johann Strauss there is much to enjoy here.
Indeed there is much to enjoy throughout the programme. Whilst the two CDs are not generously filled the set is available at the price of a single full priced disc which makes it good value. The recording is forward and bright and there are notes by Professor Otto Biba which are extensive if oddly arranged. A Waltz Revolution? Perhaps not, but certainly a welcome change to most of the standard collections of Viennese dance music that I have heard.
John Sheppard 

Good value and a welcome change to most standard collections of Viennese dance music.