Classical Reissue Reviews
J. STRAUSS: Waltzes = The Blue Danube; Tales from the Vienna Woods; Voices of Spring; Artists’ Life; Wine, Woman and Song – London Philharmonic Orchestra/Antal Dorati – HDTT
Published on August 30, 2008
J. STRAUSS: Waltzes = The Blue Danube; Tales from the Vienna Woods; Voices of Spring; Artists’ Life; Wine, Woman and Song – London Philharmonic Orchestra/Antal Dorati
HDTT CD-R139 (also avail. as 96K DVD-R), 52:20 ****:
Transferred from London 4-track tape, these happy, exhilarated performances of Strauss from Antal Dorati (1906-1988) may remind some auditors of his having recorded this music with soprano Miliza Korjus in the 1940s, and then having arranged much of the Strauss legacy for his musical bon-bon Graduation Ball. My personal association with the collaboration of Dorati and the LPO extends to their early 78 rpm inscription of Scheherazade. I like the sonic separation of the strings and woodwinds and brass, the cello and flute, the horn and flute making lovely antiphons in the last pages of The Blue Danube.
Sincere bucolic longings for the Vienna Woods, aerial pauses in the opening tissue under the triangle, then the lilting march. The cello takes us to the French horn, flute, and then the harp’s standing in for the zither – unfortunately no Anton Karas. A rich brew of strings and harps announce the waltz theme, its lilt and quick grace note well preserved. I miss the slight ritard Krauss and Kleiber could impart, but the gentle–albeit glibly slick–Dorati rendition hath its charms. The LPO brass work proves exemplary, as does the battery. Lush flourishes in the strings, snare, harps, and flute for Voices of Spring, whose classic Beecham inscription with the LPO long provided me a spirited model for this vivacious waltz. Nice bass-fiddle work from the LPO here, with sudden accelerations and haunting lilts in the melodic line. The last pages quite sparkle with spring dewdrops. Artists’ Life vibrantly combines a bucolic landscape and the Viennese salon atmosphere, and an elegant, metrically ingenious ride it can be. The opening of Wine, Women and Song almost sounds like Smetana until the low strings pick up and expand the theme; even then, the Austro-Hungarian ethos remains strong, touched by a Gallic color in the strings and harps that might be Gounod or Massenet. The periodic structure of the waltz aligns it most graciously with many a happy operetta standard. The generous melodic tissue flows seamlessly, a veritable Gilded Age in music. Dorati in virtually irresistible form, his LPO players spontaneous and virtuosic in the service of a jeweled, lost world.