Strauss: Arrangements of Strauss by Rosenthal, Tausig, Godowsky & Schulz-Evler

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LABELS: Dorian Discovery
WORKS: Arrangements of Strauss by Rosenthal, Tausig, Godowsky & Schulz-Evler
PERFORMER: Thomas Labé (piano)
What, asks the young American Thomas Labé, could provide ‘more perfect source material than the music of Strauss, for the pastiche creations of the illustrious composer-pianists who roamed the world in the latter 19th and early 20th centuries, forever seeking vehicles with which to exploit the possibilities of their instrument and display their pianistic prowess?’


This enterprising debut CD album brings together eight celebrated views of Strauss the younger and fin de siecle Vienna, by Godowsky, Schulz-Evler, and two of Liszt’s pupils — Karl Tausig and Moritz Rosenthal. Most faithful are Schulz-Evler’s ‘arabesques’, most fanciful Tausig’s ‘transfigurations’, with Rosenthal and Godowsky taking paths respectively kaleidoscopic and contrapuntally recreative. All call interpretatively for a unique kind of imaginative licence and poetic indulgence.


Labé catches the nostalgic sensualism of Tausig and Schulz- Evler evocatively, but — by comparison with the elan of a Cherkassky or the rubato of an Earl Wild – is otherwise undernourished. Airless acoustic imaging and an unfocused piano sound, ‘soft’ in the bass at the expense of tactile immediacy, doesn’t help. Ates Orga