WORKS: Schlagobers Suite; München – ein Gedachtniswalzer
PERFORMER: Detroit SO/Neeme Jarvi
CATALOGUE NO: CHAN 9606
Even the most devoted Straussian will have a hard time loving every minute of the composer’s whipped-cream fantasy ballet, Schlagobers, composed for a postwar Vienna where no confectionery was to be found in the shops. Jarvi’s is by no means the whole story – which can be heard from Japanese forces on a single Denon disc — and he makes cuts in three of the suite’s eight numbers, but at a mere 50 minutes it’s still indigestible. His chosen opening, not in the published selection, is deceptively well-behaved, with Strauss genially indulging his taste for the mock-antique. Then the nightmare begins: a journey through a multi-layered chocolate box where it seems as if Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker divertissement has been placed on the rack, stuffed full of unnecessary counterpoint and subjected to tortuous harmonic sequences which disguise a lack of melodic substance.
Neither the recording nor the conductor attempts to control the more relentlessly noisy passages, the creaminess of the strings is more curdled than whipped and the ballet’s several waltzes, which contain the best invention, are uncomfortably hard driven. Munchen is also a little cramped for a ‘memorial waltz’; its central lamentation for the bombing of Munich, less monumental than its big-brother Metamorphosen, can still be overwhelming in more measured hands. David Nice