Thursday 11 May 2017

Springtime in Vienna

Frühling in Wien - Wiener Symphoniker
Carl Michael Ziehrer, Franz von Suppé, Max Schönherr, Richard Strauss, Beethoven, Eduard Strauss; Wiener Symphoniker, Manfred Honeck; Wiener Symphoniker
Reviewed by Robert Hugill on Apr 13 2017
Star rating: 3.5

Much to pique the interest in the Spring themed waltz recital from Vienna

For those loving the Viennese waltz, this disc from the Wiener Symphoniker (on the orchestra's own label) makes a refreshing change from the traditional Viennese New Year's Day offering. Recorded live in the Vienna Musikverein's Goldener Saal, the disc is based on the Wiener Symphoniker's traditional of Springtime in Vienna concerts. Manfred Honeck conducts the orchestra in a programme of waltzes and more by Carl Michael Ziehrer, Franz von Suppé, Max Schönherr and Eduard Strauss, plus movements from Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony and Richard Strauss's Schlagobers. If some of the names seem unfamiliar then that is half the disc's charm, and even the Richard Strauss is a rarity.

We open with the waltz Hereinspazier by Carl Michael Ziehrer, who was the last Imperial-Royal Court Ball Music Director in Vienna (a successor to Johann and Eduard Strauss). The waltz, originally from a 1904 operetta, is very much in the Strauss family idiom. Franz von Suppe is represented not by a waltz but by the overture Dicther und Bauer (Poet and Peasant) delightfully dramatic stuff with a lovely violin solo. The third movement 'Allegro: Merry gathering of country folk' from Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony is performed with a light touch and nice transparency of texture.

Max Schönherr was principal conductor of the Great Vienna Radio Orchestra, and as such became something of a Vienna institution after 1945. His Tänze aus Osterreich (Dances from Austria) date from 1935 and the three movements played here are a charming country dance with bird song in the orchestra, a quietly perky number and a concert galop. Richard Strauss's Schlagobers (Whipped Cream), a 'merry ballet in two acts', dates from 1924. It was not a great success. Here we hear three movements, very definitely Richard Strauss in style though perhaps not quite vintage stuff, the middle movement has an elegant violin solo.

Ziehrer's Weana Mad'ln (Viennese Girls) waltz dates from 1888 and has a long introduction which features a country dance and whistling from the orchestra's members, before the waltz proper arrives. Schönher's galop Präterfahrt anno 1880 (A drive through the Prater in 1880) was in fact written in 1950. It is full of wit, along with whistles too, wonderfully characterful. For the last piece on the programme we have a waltz by Eduard Struass Wien über alles (Vienna above all) which sends us on our way with the familiar Strauss lilt.

This is an imaginative disc which manages to stay firmly in Viennese waltz territory whilst piquing the interest.

Carl Michael Ziehrer (1843-1922) - "Hereinspaziert" waltz op.518
Franz von Suppé (1819-1895) - Overture to Bauer und Dichter
Beethoven (1770-1827) - Pastoral Symphony (excerpt)
Max Schönherr (1903-1984) - Tänze aus Osterreich (excerpts)
Richard Strauss (1864-1949) - Schlagobers (excerpts)
Carl Michael Ziehrer - "Weana Mad'ln" waltz Op.388
Max Schönherr - Praterfahrt anno 1880
Eduard Strauss (1835-1916) - Wien über alles
Wiener Symphoniker
Manfred Honeck (conductor)
Recorded 26/27 March 2016, Goldener Saal, Musikverein Wien
WSO 110
Available from Amazon.

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  • Exploring the mysterious world: Thomas Ades' The Exterminating Angel - Opera review
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  • Winning combination: Liza Ferschtman in Mendelssohn - CD review
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