The World of Compact Discs

By Paterson, Anthony | Contemporary Review, December 1999 | Go to article overview

The World of Compact Discs


Paterson, Anthony, Contemporary Review


This year marks the hundredth anniversary of the death of Johann Strauss Jnr. It is likely that every day during the turbulent century now ending someone somewhere has experienced the joy of a Strauss waltz. For many people recordings of Johann Strauss and his remarkable family -- his father, Johann Snr and his brothers, Josef and 'Handsome Edie,' all made notable contributions to the family business of music making -- summon up the image of a happier and seemingly care-free world. The problem with this is that the deep melancholy that is part of the genius of Johann Strauss is often obscured in the schmaltzy recordings of his waltzes.

In his biography of Herbert von Karajan, Richard Osborne quotes that greatest of record producers, Walter Legge, as saying that 'Great conductors of Johann Strauss are rarer than men who can squeeze out the face-flannels of Mahler's exhibitionistic self-pity.' Certainly Nikolaus Harnoncourt is already in that category, especially for his recording of 'Der Zigeunerbaron' where his edition restored much lost music to that masterly operetta.

There has long been a view that only a true Viennese can conduct Strauss properly, particularly in getting the right emphasis on the second beat. Harnoncourt is not strictly speaking Viennese, as he grew up in Graz, but much of his playing and conducting has been done in Vienna, notably with his Vienna Concentus Musicus. So the seductive spirit of that enchanting city has seeped into his soul and he can rightly claim to be as 'echt wienerisch' as Clemens Krauss or Willi Boskovsky.

Johann Strauss in Berlin is a marvellous new CD from TELDEC (9 3984-24489-2) with Harnoncourt conducting the Berlin Philharmonic in a carefully chosen selection of ten Strauss works, both familiar and unfamiliar. Some eyebrows may escalate at the idea of the Berlin Philharmonic invading the territory of its arch rival, the Vienna Philharmonic, but we must recall that von Karajan used that orchestra in many notable Strauss recordings. There is further justification as the works on this CD gained their popularity in Berlin rather than in Vienna.

This is particularly the case with the tuneful operetta, 'Eine Nacht in Venedig,' a work hampered by a dreadful libretto. In his incisive introductory essay -- a hallmark of Harnoncourt's recordings -- he says that Strauss is now played too quickly, contrary to the Waltz King's own practice. Also modem conductors have 'a tendency to ignore the element of melancholy.' Anyone listening to Harnoncourt's rendition of the Overture to 'Eine Nacht in Venedig' will hear exactly what he means, especially when he reaches the famed Gondolla waltz, an exquisite tune which is among the greatest outpourings of Strauss's fertile brain.

Harnoncourt's playing of the Die Fledermaus overture is certainly taken slowly, though with no sacrifice of gaiety or excitement. His performance is just under nine minutes while von Karajan's, in his celebrated 1955 recording, is more than a minute quicker. The disc closes with a spirited rendition of the 'Kaiser Franz Josef Rejoicing March' which incorporates the sonorous strains of the old Austrian Imperial anthem 'Gott Erhalte Franz den Kaiser' written by Haydn and since 'borrowed' by Germany for its anthem. The Harnoncourt CD will certainly be a prized possession for all who love the music of the Waltz King. Incidentally it is surely a disgrace -- attributable to the convoluted politics of Austrian music -- that Harnoncourt has not been asked to conduct the Vienna Philharmonic for a New Year's Day Concert.

One of the most admirable series of CD recordings has been HYPERION'S 'Romantic Piano Concerto' which has now reached its maturity with the twenty-first release. Several of its predecessors have been commended in this column. The current release features the first recording of two concertos, the Piano Concerto in C Minor, by Theodor Kullak and the Piano Concerto in D Minor by Alexander Dreyschock. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

The World of Compact Discs
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.