Strauss: Burleske for piano and orchestra; Rosenkavalier Waltzes; Sextet from Capriccio, Op. 85

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COMPOSERS: Strauss
LABELS: Decca
ALBUM TITLE: Strauss
WORKS: Burleske for piano and orchestra; Rosenkavalier Waltzes; Sextet from Capriccio, Op. 85
PERFORMER: Burleske for piano and orchestra; Rosenkavalier Waltzes; Sextet from Capriccio, Op. 85
CATALOGUE NO: 475 6550
With a piano concerto that’s really a scherzo, operatic waltzes shoddily stitched together to make a divertissement and a string-sextet curtainraiser, the main Straussian event is missing from this disc. The orchestral items look like afterthoughts from 1996; the Burleske, recorded last year, may have been destined for a different companion. Never mind; Thibaudet’s slightly brittle glitz is well suited to Strauss’s youthful jeu d’esprit for piano and orchestra, and nimbly partnered in crystal-clear recording by Blomstedt’s Leipzig Gewandhaus. The Till Eulenspiegelish wit, delightfully done, brings the French player close to the mercurial command of Martha Argerich, whose equally playful relationship with Abbado and the Berlin Philharmonic makes more of the dreamier sequences but is currently unavailable.

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Neither gives us the bigger picture. Burleske’s protagonist is really a jolly giant in ballet shoes, so the more comprehensive virtuosity of Byron Janis remains the ideal (though in plummier sound). You can find his performance in two formats – either as an afterthought to Fritz Reiner’s Mahler Four or to his earlier Also sprach Zarathustra where the interlude is Reiner’s own arrangement of the Rosenkavalier waltzes, preferable to Strauss’s own First Waltz Sequence (sadly, both cut the priapic Prelude’s naughty bits). Before the second sequence, not by Strauss but more faithful to the original, the Capriccio Sextet in its original solo-string version provides a cooling-down which Blomstedt would seem to prefer. David Nice