Strauss, Liszt, Korngold, Busoni & Schreker: Orchestral Works

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COMPOSERS: Busoni & Schreker,Korngold,Liszt,Strauss
LABELS: PentaTone
ALBUM TITLE: Strauss, Liszt, Korngold, Busoni & Schreker: Orchestral Works
WORKS: R Strauss: Salome – Dance of the Seven Veils; Der Rosenkavalier – Waltz Sequence • Liszt: Mephisto Waltz No. 1 • Korngold: Straussiana • Busoni: Tanz-Walzer • Schreker: Ein Tanzspiel
PERFORMER: Orchestre de la Suisse Romande/ Kazuki Yamada

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The missing guest at this feast of dance-related music is Ravel’s La valse, the work that ends by pushing the waltz, so it seems now, into the cataclysm of the First World War. Fainter shadows of unrest appear in Busoni’s much less familiar Tanz-Walzer, finished two months before the Ravel premiered in December 1920. For the rest, the Suisse Romande Orchestra and their gifted principal guest conductor, Kazuki Yamada, whip us round
the European dance floor with music that is highly coloured, voluptuous, decadent – and generally, hugely enjoyable.

The orchestra’s playing matches the luxury of Pentatone’s warm, rich recording at Geneva’s Victoria Hall. In Yamada’s hands Liszt’s first Mephisto Waltz really sounds like a dance with the devil. Smoochy strings and perky woodwinds characterise the ‘Dance of the Seven Veils’ from Richard Strauss’s Salome, while the opulent swing of the first Rosenkavalier waltz sequence left me panting. The Busoni, best of the rarer items, needs a little more momentum (Markevitch’s 1950s recording remains my ideal), but still casts a spell with its sinuous harmonic shifts.

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Placed alongside, Korngold’s 1953 Straussiana (Johann Jr is meant) seems only candyfloss, but very prettily played. That just leaves Schreker’s waltz-free Ein Tanzspiel of 1908: not the composer’s most incandescent creation, though with a heady programme like this every listener needs a pause to mop a brow and rest those feet. Geoff Brown