Classical: The Compact Collection

Rob Cowan on the Week's CD Releases

SOMEWHERE BETWEEN the "blue" Danube and memories of Field Marshall Radetzky, the true spirit of Johann Strauss still awaits rediscovery. No doubt about it, the Waltz King's empire reaches beyond the ballrooms of Vienna to musical vistas where Brahms and Tchaikovsky would have felt at home. Listen carefully and the message soon registers - in the five- minute introduction to Wine, Women and Song, for example, which runs the emotional gamut from melancholy to exaltation in exquisitely modulated orchestration. And while Deutsche Grammophon's sumptuous 11-CD "Vienna Philharmonic-Johann Strauss Jubilee Edition 1999" calls freely on those many New Year concerts that we've known and loved for years, the repertoire (every Strauss piece that the Philharmonic has ever recorded) confirms the vast scope of Johann II's creative facility.

In addition to drawing from its own vast archive, DG has culled material (some of it previously unissued) from Decca, EMI, Sony, RCA, Philips and Austrian Radio. Virtually all the noted Straussians are represented, from Erich Kleiber in the Twenties to a Clemens Krauss broadcast from 1944; from the ubiquitous Willi Boskovsky to the imperious Herbert von Karajan. There's the dynamism of Mehta, Muti and Maazel, the lyricism of Krips and Knappertsbusch, the precision of Abbado and Szell. All combine a winning lilt with a keen ear, and don't imagine for a moment that the "old boys" have a monopoly on charm; Muti is every bit as beguiling as Krauss or Furtwangler.

Strauss's non-musical prompts were various, from a lawsuit for slander to an "Electrophorus" (a producer of static electricity). Vienna's blind community was offered Par force, and the Persian March celebrated the Shah's visit to St Petersburg. All is revealed in the handsome accompanying hardback book, though the music tells the richest tales. There's the elegance and lustre of Schneeglockchen, the unexpected delicacy of the Demolishers, a hilarious trip through Verdi's A Masked Ball (an accelerating quadrille), a furioso quasi-gallop that suggests the lighter side of Mussorgsky's Bare Mountain, and the seamless lines of Liebeslieder.

Rich pickings indeed, though others might prefer to sit by drumming their fingers while Steve Reich allows rhythmic patterns to repeat and converge. Phase Patterns sets the initial pulse on Wergo's new all-Reich CD - unnervingly at first, but give it time and the gradual metamorphosis starts to make sense. Ensemble Avantgarde opens and closes its programme on four electric organs, though brace yourself for the final selection (Four Organs) where maracas alone set the rhythm and the chosen chords stretch and coagulate like a mass of drying gum. The compulsive Piano Phase (for two pianos) is the easiest listen, and the three hypnotic shots at the dirge-like Pendulum Music - where four microphones swing past loudspeakers - offer as many varieties of electronic feedback. Lock into it, and Reich's compelling early work rests on its own infallible logic. All you have to do is put all other music out of your mind first - not least, Johann Strauss.

Strauss/ Vienna Philharmonic Deutsche Grammophon 459 734-3 (11 discs, limited edition)

Reich/Ensemble Avantgarde Wergo WER 6630-2

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Martin Freeman as Lester Nygaard in the TV adaptation of 'Fargo'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules

film
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'

film
Arts and Entertainment
<p><strong>2008</strong></p>
<p>Troubled actor Robert Downey Jr cements his comeback from drug problems by bagging the lead role in Iron Man. Two further films follow</p>

film
Arts and Entertainment

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book

books
Arts and Entertainment
Panic! In The Disco's Brendon Urie performs on stage

music
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Radio 4's Today programme host Evan Davis has been announced as the new face of Newsnight

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams performing on the Main Stage at the Wireless Festival in Finsbury Park, north London

music
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Mathison returns to the field in the fourth season of Showtime's Homeland

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Crowds soak up the atmosphere at Latitude Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Meyne Wyatt and Caren Pistorus arrive for the AACTA Aawrds in Sydney, Australia

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Rick Astley's original music video for 'Never Gonna Give You Up' has been removed from YouTube

music
Arts and Entertainment
Quentin Blake's 'Artists on the beach'

Artists unveils new exhibition inspired by Hastings beach

art
Arts and Entertainment
MusicFans were left disappointed after technical issues
Arts and Entertainment
'Girl with a Pearl Earring' by Johannes Vermeer, c. 1665
artWhat is it about the period that so enthrals novelists?
Arts and Entertainment
Into the woods: The Merry Wives of Windsor at Petersfield
theatreOpen-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

    Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

    The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

    Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

    Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
    German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

    Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

    Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
    BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

    BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

    The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
    Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

    Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

    Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
    How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

    Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

    Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
    Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

    Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

    Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
    10 best reed diffusers

    Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

    Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

    Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

    There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
    Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

    Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

    It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
    Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

    Screwing your way to the top?

    Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
    Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

    Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

    Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

    The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

    Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
    US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

    Meet the US Army's shooting star

    Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform