J.Strauss II, Waltz Transcriptions, Berliner Streichquartet et al.
Berlin Classics 1258
Part of the arrangements for Schönberg’s exclusive “Verein für musikalische Privataufführungen” (Association for Private Musical Performances), the Waltzes are not radical recompositions but – as was the club’s goal and achievement – true-as-possible arrangements for a small group of players (usually including strings, piano, harmonium, and occasionally some assorted winds) so as to present and better understand the works at hand. (This Strauss event was a one-off fundraising concert and the only of the series that was open to the public. The most famous arrangements of that club are Mahler’s Lied von der Erde and his fourth symphony, as well as Bruckner’s 7th.) The lush Straussian textures that the cynic might call saccharine get a notably more modern, obviously leaner touch. None of the Viennese lilt is sacrificed, however. The works on this disc, now released in the U.S. in a beautifully printed edition, were new to me and all the happier a surprise. As a luxurious little dessert, they are perfect and understood as such: the contents should well be worth a stiff $20 for 43 minutes (I know some balk at such short-playing discs) of a refreshing twist on undeniably delightful music. If I hadn’t already bought my copy, I’d be sure to point out that the disc would make a perfect little gift of appreciation to… oh, gee… maybe your favorite music critic?!