Classical Music Home

Welcome to Naxos Records

Keyword Search
 Classical Music Home > Naxos Album Reviews

Album Reviews

See latest reviews of other albums...

Richard Traubner
American Record Guide, July 2009

We are now at Volume 13 of the Marco Polo Johann Strauss I Edition, which must be cheery news indeed for lovers of this Biedermeier giant. Visions of the great dance halls of old Vienna filled with happy dancers hearing these pieces for the first time will dominate your thoughts, even though this kind of ballroom activity only goes on in the Carnival period in today’s Vienna, and usually with much more familiar music. As far as pure listening goes, these waltzes are always diverting, some more than others. Do read the excellent notes by Thomas Aigner as you listen.

The introduction to the ‘Cupid’s Arrow’ Waltz is very pretty; the electrical sparks in Opus 125, ‘Elektrische Funken’ are, well, electric (and you can see why a double encore was demanded by the Sperl dance hall audience). I was most fascinated by the suite of waltzes based on themes from Ernst’s Carnival of Venice, with the instruments playing amusingly against the entire orchestra, much in the manner of the Big Bands of the 1930s and 40s. The Souvenir de Liszt fantasia that closes the recital—based on Hungarian songs for piano— was never published and was reconstructed by conductor Christian Pollack for this recording. The Slovak Sinfonietta of Zilina plays most fetchingly for Herr Pollack in this and in all the tracks.

David Denton
David's Review Corner, January 2009

The year was 1840 and the annual Imperial Ball had been booked in Vienna’s most important establishment, the Sperl, and venue that came complete with the resident Johann Strauss Orchestra and a new work to celebrate the event, Cecilien-Walzer. It was one of his most ambitious and beautiful waltzes he was ever to compose, and to give it added status he wrapped into it material from Beethoven’s ‘Kreutzer’ violin sonata. It is the  charming opening track of a disc covering the years 1839-40, the father of the Strauss dynasty now thirty-five and at the height of his popularity. The commercial gain in celebrating occasions became increasingly obvious, even religious events, such as Palm Sunday did not miss his attention, though the Palm-Zweige, with some crunchy harmonies, shows little in the way of spiritual origins. Amors-Pfeile (Cupid’s Arrows), Elektrische Funken (Electrical Sparks) and Apollo were production-line waltzes. but, with themes borrowed from Heinrich Ernst, the Erinnerung an Ernst oder Der Carneval in Venedig (Reminiscence of Ernst or The Venetian Carnival) was set to display the virtuoso talents of his orchestra. More borrowing for Deutsche Lust oder Donau-Lieder ohn Text (German Joy or Songs Without a Text from the Danube), which had to be repeated twice at its premiere,and Souvenir de Liszt, show how well he worked with others music. I wish the tempo for this final track had shown more impetus, but the small Slovak Sinfonietta Zilina is in good form for the great Strauss conductor, Christian Pollack,. He is so well versed in this era and much enjoys a gentle frolic through the Venetian Carnival. Reliable and attractive sound.

Naxos Records, a member of the Naxos Music Group