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David Denton
David's Review Corner, June 2007

To titillate their audience the great virtuoso pianists devised the most fiendishly difficult paraphrases of popular classics - usually extracts from opera - which they used on concert tours, often as the encore to send the audience happily on their way. This disc turns its attention to the treatment given to the younger Johann Strauss, and range from the straight transcription of the Annen Polka by the Rawicz and Landauer duo, to the extended and finger-knotting 'concert Arabesques' by Andrei Schultz-Evler using the popular waltz as the thematic material. I had never heard the Russian recording of Jakov Fliere, who seems to have three hands as he runs through the well-known tunes from Die Fledermaus. I was also delighted to once again find a recording by Ania Dorfmann, a fantastic Russian-born pianist who made her home in America. At the other extreme to these 'serious' paraphrases, we have the blind pianist, Alec Templeton, giving a dazzling display of quick fingers in his frothy arrangement of Tales from the Vienna Woods. As you will by now have realised, to make sense of the heading I have shown the performers in brackets against each piece, the only disappointment coming from the Swiss-born, Walter Rehberg, whose fingers are at times in danger of running away with themselves. The novelty comes with the Philharmonic Piano Quartet formed in New York in 1949, the highly complex Die Fledermaus waltzes composed for them and superbly played. Leonard Pennario's Emperor Waltz is a free adaptation, though among the nearest we have to a straight arrangement, The recordings cover the period 1930 - 54, the excellent transfers offer a remarkable similarity in texture, the dynamic level perfectly adjusted between tracks. Looking for a niche market, but its a super disc.

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