J Strauss II

BBC Music Magazine - - Orchestral Reviews -

Aschen­brödel

ORF Vi­enna Ra­dio Sym­phony Orches­tra/ernst Theis

CPO 777 950-2 99:05 mins (2 discs) Al­though 19th-cen­tury bal­let scores – most no­tably Tchaikovsky’s and De­libes’s – em­braced some of the most de­light­ful or­ches­tral in­ven­tion of the Ro­man­tic era, they were of­ten treated in cav­a­lier fash­ion by chore­og­ra­phers and pro­duc­ers, with num­bers cut, in­serted, adapted and re-or­dered with im­punity ac­cord­ing to whim. Jo­hann Strauss’s Aschen­brödel (Cin­derella) proved no ex­cep­tion. When Strauss died sud­denly in June 1899 the score was still in­com­plete and it was left to bal­let-op­eretta com­poser Joseph Bayer to col­late all his sketches and drafts as the com­poser orig­i­nally in­tended. This ver­sion was never per­formed, how­ever, and by the time it was pre­miered two years later it had an en­tirely new sce­nario and was ac­cord­ingly re­assem­bled by Bayer. Most sub­se­quent pro­duc­tions were based on this new ver­sion, which in a re­vised edi­tion by Dou­glas Gam­ley re­ceived an out­stand­ing record­ing by Richard Bonynge and the Na­tional Phil­har­monic (Decca).

This new record­ing is in ef­fect a world premiere, there­fore, as it is based on Michael Rot’s painstak­ing re­con­struc­tion of Strauss’s orig­i­nal from Bayer’s pi­ano score and Strauss’s orig­i­nal sketches, which hav­ing been con­sid­ered lost were mirac­u­lously re­dis­cov­ered only a few years ago. Cast in two acts, it boasts a non-stop flow of en­chant­ing ideas, in­clud­ing the prin­ci­ple Blue Danube waltz, and is played here by Vi­enna’s ORF Ra­dio-sym­phonieorch­ester and Ernst Theis with an un­mis­tak­ably Vi­en­nese flair for the mu­sic’s in­fec­tious dance rhythms. Re­fresh­ingly, Ernst Theis ap­proaches the score as he might con­duct­ing in a dance theatre, with rhythms deftly pointed and Strauss’s ra­di­ant in­ven­tion kept lightly on its toes. Ju­lian Hay­lock PER­FOR­MANCE ★★★★ RECORD­ING ★★★★

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