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Johann Strauss Waltzes, Polkas & Overtures
Orchestre Anima Eterna/Jos van Immersel

Tritsch-Tratsch Polka, RV 214
Overture & Csardas Die Fledermaus, RV 503-1
Nordseebilder, Walzer, RV 39
Im Sturmschritt, Polka Schnell, RV 348
Neue Pizzikato Polka, RV 449
Perpetuum Mobile, Ein Musikalischer Scherz (2. Fassung), RV 257-2
Fruhlingsstimmen, Walzer, RV 410
Ouverture Der Zigeunerbaron, RV 511-1
An Der Schonen Blauen Donau, Walzer, RV 314
Egyptischer Marsch, RV 335
Eljien A Magyar, Polka, RV 332
Furioso Polka, Quasi Galopp, RV 260

Zig-Zag territoires ZZT 020601
[The Arsenal, Metz, September 1999; TT 71 mins] UK distributor: RSK Entertainment

Anima Eterna is a serious period instrument orchestra which is exploring the boundaries of the Early Music movement, edging ever closer to living memory. They are probably the first to give scholarly attention to Johann Strauss. It turns out that there is much to do, say and hear. In the learned essays provided you will discover that the accepted tradition of playing the second beat early is relatively new; in 1929 Clemens Krauss and the VPO played with transparency, light as a feather, almost without vibrato, the second beat only very rarely lengthened. The massive new critical edition discover, in the first place, what a marvellous orchestrator was this most successful composer of his time. Michael Rot coordinated work on the numerous sources, more than three thousand of them! The Blue Danube waltz alone required 16 pages of commentary.

It proves to have been a radical exercise, not just cosmetic tinkering. The music in this first selection of what must surely be an ongoing project is well varied, with rare pieces amongst the familiar. The verve and clarity of their rejuvination has to be heard to be believed; that is easy with samples on the Amazon websites. Strauss's orchestral mastery is left in no doubt by van Immersel and his young musicians, every one of them named; the recording is demonstration class.

The 50+ page booklet boxed with the jewel case is lavish with historical illustrations which take you right back to Strauss's Vienna, and the company's trade mark paintings by resident artist Anne Peultier subtly bring atmosphere. Food for thought and inordinate enjoyment in this CD, the biggest surprise in an auspicious batch from Zig-Zag.


© Peter Grahame Woolf