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

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COMPOSERS: Strauss
LABELS: Dorian Discovery
WORKS: Arrangements of Strauss by Rosenthal, Tausig, Godowsky & Schulz-Evler
PERFORMER: Thomas Labé (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: DIS-80102 DDD
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?’

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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.

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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