Also, Burleske; Capriccio Sextet. Jean-Yves Thibaudet, piano; Herbert Blomstedt, Gewandhaus Orchestra Leipzig. Decca B0004645-02.
I'm not sure we needed another recording of Richard Strauss's Rosenkavalier Waltzes, but here we get two of them. Strauss was not too keen on arranging a suite of waltzes from the opera himself, yet he was never too happy with the suite arranged by Otto Singer and others, either. In 1944, with apparently nothing else to do, he finally got around to putting together a sequence of waltzes from Acts 1 and 2, along with some new connecting material to make the whole thing hang together better.
Herbert Blomstedt conducts the Gewandhaus Orchestra Leipzig in both this suite and the anonymous one of tunes from Act 3, along with two couplings, the Burleske for Piano and Orchestra, with the eminent Jean-Yves Tibaudet as soloist, and the Sextet that opens the opera Capriccio. Blomstedt's knowledge and direction of Strauss are beyond reproach, and whether we needed another recording of the music, this one is as good as any.
The waltzes owe a lot to those other Strausses, the waltz family Strausses, but, of course, they are pure Richard Strauss, too, with sweet, felicitous touches of Til Eulenspiegel and Ein Heldenleben thrown in along the way. The Sextet is wonderfully serene and beautifully performed. And the Burleske is surprisingly Romantic, or perhaps not so surprising considering Strauss originally wrote it when he was only twenty-one years old (and revised it a few years later).
The sound is typical of Decca in that it is very robust, strong in the bass, and a touch hard in the upper frequencies. Oddly, while Decca recorded the Burleske more recently, in 2004, they recorded the other pieces almost a decade earlier in 1996. I wonder how much other good stuff these record companies have lying around unopened in their vaults?
About the Author
I've been listening to classical music most of my life, starting with the classical excerpts on The Big John and Sparkie radio show in the early Fifties and the purchase of my first classical recording, The 101 Strings Play the Classics, around 1956. In the late Sixties I began teaching high school English and Film Studies as well as becoming interested in hi-fi, my audio ambitions graduating me from a pair of AR-3 speakers to the Fulton J's recommended by The Stereophile's J. Gordon Holt. In the early Seventies, I began writing for a number of audio magazines, including Audio Excellence, Audio Forum, The Boston Audio Society Speaker, The American Record Guide, and from 1976 until 2008, The $ensible Sound, for which I served as Classical Music Editor. Today, I'm retired from teaching and using a pair of VMPS RM40s. In addition to writing the Classical Candor blog, I served as the Movie Review Editor for the Web site Movie Metropolis (moviemet.com, formerly DVDTOWN) from 1997-2013. Music and movies. Life couldn't be better.
It is the goal of Classical Candor to promote the enjoyment of classical music. Other forms of music come and go--minuets, waltzes, ragtime, blues, jazz, bebop, country-western, rock-'n'-roll, heavy metal, rap, and the rest--but classical music has been around for hundreds of years and will continue to be around for hundreds more. It's no accident that every major city in the world has one or more symphony orchestras.
When I was young, I heard it said that only intellectuals could appreciate classical music, that it required dedicated concentration to appreciate. Nonsense. I'm no intellectual, and I've always loved classical music. Anyone who's ever seen and enjoyed Disney's Fantasia or a Looney Tunes cartoon playing Rossini's William Tell Overture or Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 can attest to the power and joy of classical music, and that's just about everybody.
So, if Classical Candor can expand one's awareness of classical music and bring more joy to one's life, more power to it. It's done its job.
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