Richard Strauss: Rosenkavalier Waltzes (CD review)

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?


1 comment:

  1. When I listened to this CD I found a section in the central part of the sextet where one of the cello lines was extremely loud while the other 5 players seemed to be in another room with the door firmly closed ! In other words the balance was way out.


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Understand, I'm just an everyday guy reacting to something I love. And I've been doing it for a very long time, my appreciation for classical music starting with the musical excerpts on The Big John and Sparkie radio show in the early Fifties and the purchase of my first 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.

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