Johann Strauss II: Kaiserwalzer; Seid umschlungen, Millionen; Simplicius-Walzer; Frühlingsstimmenwalzer

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COMPOSERS: Johann Strauss II
LABELS: Teldec
WORKS: Kaiserwalzer; Seid umschlungen, Millionen; Simplicius-Walzer; Frühlingsstimmenwalzer
PERFORMER: Berlin PO/Nikolaus Harnoncourt
CATALOGUE NO: 3984-24489-2
Music famously can evoke a sense of place, and there’s no spot like Vienna for invoking it. Something in the air – or in the waters of the Danube – blows or flows to a certain indefinable rhythm and implants itself in the very prasing of the music. Every recording worthy of the name claims to capture that `authentic’ movement, and Harnoncourt’s is certainly not deficient in this regard. What most enchants the ear, however, is the sheer precision he delivers with the Berlin Philharmonic. So much so that, just to hear it played this way, one wishes that hoary old classic An der schonen, blauen Donau were here on the collection, were it not for the presence of other and no less deserving delights: the polka francaise Die Tauben von San Marco and the Kaiser Franz Joseph 1. Rettungs-Jubel Marsch. In all the busy scenes of life this music stands for something refined: an impossible ideal which the composer captured in sound . Kubrick’s use of Strauss’s music in 2001 A Space Odyssey may have given the fantasy an added dimension; but here we have only poised melodies floating above the most discrete of accompaniments to the passing aroma of coffee and whipped cream. Nicholas Williams