Johann STRAUSS (1804-1849)
Johann Strauss I Edition - vol. 22
Die Schwalben - Walzer, op.208 (1847) [7:20]
Österreichischer Defilir-Marsch, op.209 (1847) [2:07]
Beliebte Kathinka - Polka, op.210 (1847) [2:05]
Beliebte Quadrille, after Auber, op.211 (1847) [5:21]
Marien-Walzer, op.212 (1847) [9:50]
Feldbleamel'n-Walzer, op.213 (1847) [8:46]
Nádor Kör, Palatinal-Tanz, op.214 (1847) [11:41]
Martha-Quadrille, op.215 (1847) [5:27]
Martha-Quadrille, op.215 - supplementary optional movements 2, 5, 6 (1847) [2:27]
Die Adepten - Walzer, op.216 (1847) [7:59]
Schäfer-Quadrille, op.217 (1847) [5:59]
Tanz-Signale-Walzer, op.218 (1847) [8:30]
Slovak Sinfonietta Žilina/Christian Pollack
rec. Fatra House of the Arts, Žilina, Slovakia, 4-6 April 2011. DDD
MARCO POLO 8.225342 [78:09]
This is volume 22 of the complete works of Johann Strauss the elder, father of the more celebrated composers Johann junior, Josef and Eduard. These are new recordings, the Marco Polo label having been reanimated by HNH/Naxos to continue, among other things, the Strauss family editions. Johann the younger's complete orchestral works were published across 51 volumes in the early 1990s, followed by 26 devoted to Josef (1993-2002). This current edition began back in 2003, but the last twelve months have seen four releases, volumes 20-23 (8.225340-3 - see review of volume 23).
It may well be argued that the world does not especially need a complete edition of Johann Strauss the elder's music, and not without some justification - he must be ranked below his three musical sons as a composer. Yet considering the current phenomenal success and sales of André Rieu's Johann Strauss Orchestra, now seems as good a time as any in which to publish one. Vienna-born Strauss expert Christian Pollack and the Slovak Sinfonietta are a better musical deal than Rieu. Pollack, by the way, is a veteran of both the earlier Josef and Johann II editions.
For waverers, it may be worth noting that these are not the orchestrally overblown versions as heard performed by the Vienna Philharmonic every New Year's Day, but original, more elegant chamber-oriented scorings. It must be said, however, that this is not such an easy programme to listen to all in one go, unlike volume 23, in which short polkas, waltzes and marches alternate for greater interest. Moreover, the timing here is very generous - too much so, it might be argued. Nonetheless, in smaller doses it is hard to object to music that is so effortlessly tuneful and jauntily rhythmic, even if it is as unremittingly formal as a Viennese audience. The Martha-Quadrille, Schäfer-Quadrille and Tanz-Signale-Walzer, to name but three, deserve regular outings.
With Strauss's works presented more or less in opus order, the album also offers an opportunity for listeners to hear what was 'top of the pops' in 1847 Vienna. Intimations of the tumultuous Europe-wide events of the following year can be seen in some of the titles, which have a military or nationalistic flavour. As odd as it may seem, Strauss was right in the thick of the political action, and had no scruples about writing for both conservatives and radicals, as it were, to suit the occasion!
Under Christian Pollack's attentive and dance-informed guidance, the Slovak Sinfonietta Žilina are a decent outfit, although their performance here does not quite reach the same standards as in volume 23. There’s a slightly under-rehearsed feel in places. Sound quality is good, although again bettered by the next disc.
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It is hard to object to such effortlessly tuneful and jauntily rhythmic music.
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