Friday, December 2, 2016

Strauss, II Johann. (1825-1899) The complete Orchestral Edition. CD 30

New acquisition.
Bought in 2013.
First listen: 2-12-2016.
Label: Naxos.
CD 30 from 52.
Recording dates: January 1991.
Recording venue: House of Arts, Košice.
Recording engineer: Gejza Toperczer.
Running time: 67:17.
Classical relevance: Since these are the only recordings, essential.

Works performed:
Fest Marsch, opus 49.
Luisen Sympathie Klänge, opus 81.
Alexandrine Polka, opus 198.
Paroxysmen, opus 189.
Kammerball Polka, opus 230.
Attaque Quadrille, opus 76.
Reiseabenteuer, Waltz, opus 227.
Par Force, Polka, opus 308.
Erinnerung an Covent Garden, Walzer nach Englischen Volksmelodien, opus 329.
Kriegsabenteuer, Quick Polka, opus 419.
Perpetuum mobile, ein musikalischer Scherz, opus 257.
Klug Grethlein Waltz, opus 462.

Works performed by:
Slovak State PO Košice, Alfred Walter.

After a long time I came back to this box. I always listen to this music with large intervals, so it must have been a year ago or more, I do not remember. These are the only recordings of Johann Strauss II complete orchestral works, and as such it is a unique document and not likely to be repeated by what ever label. To record 52 CD's of Strauss music is for most companies impossible to realize in terms of money. It would however make a big improvement to have top orchestras and conductors doing the performing, for despite the efforts that went into this project, the major flaw are the orchestras, conductors and recording engineers. They are of the second tier, not bad, but not good either. But at least we have the music, and for this I am grateful.
CD 30 then, not filled with absolute masterworks, but a few stand out in a compositional manner.
I was delighted to hear such witty and well written works like: Alexandrine polka, Attaque Polka and Perpetuum mobile-ein musikalischer scherz. This orchestra excels in the faster works, like the Polkas, the Quadrilles and so forth. The waltzes are mediocre on this disc. The Viennese swing and spontaneity is missing. It is stiff in the loins, square even, straightfaced as if they are all counting the notes, and play the dance element always in the same tempo, more like a menuetto. No sloppy playing mind, they keep close to the score, but it is all so measured and without the joy that is unmistakable the prime part of Strauss's music.  There is no natural flow. But funny enough, and do not ask me why, but the last waltz on this disc "Klug Grethlein" is played as it should, flowing free, emitting joy, as if the bonds of mediocre fell to the floor. Well....
As to the recording, It is not bad, all details can be heard, and there is some depth, but the ambiance is not warm but rather chilly. Moreover the string and flutes together can give you a start for their shrillness, suddenly in a fff, not nice for the ears. A decent recording, not more. A question of quality of equipment, placing of the microphones, a good mixing console, and decent near field monitors to have a bearing as to the sound. Good headphones is also a wise decision. O, well, we have to do with them.



Baroque Bass Cantatas from the Mügeln Archive.

New acquisition. Date of purchase: September 2017. First listen: 25-9-2017. Label: CPO. Recording dates: December 2010. Venue: Gemeinde...