J Strauss Edition, Vol.21 (Johannes Wildner/ Slovak State Philharmonic Orchestra) (Marco Polo: 8.223221)
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The Johann Strauss Edition
Johann Strauss II, the most famous and enduringly successful of19th-century light music composers, was born in Vienna on 25 October 1825.
Building upon the firm musical foundations laid by his father, Johann Strauss I(1804-1849) and Joseph Lanner (1801-1843), the younger Johann (along with hisbrothers, Joseph and Eduard) achieved so high a development of the classicalViennese waltz that it became as much a feature of the concert hall as of theballroom. For more than half a century Johann II captivated not only Vienna butalso the whole of Europe and America with his abundantly tuneful waltzes,polkas, quadrilles and marches. The thrice-married 'Waltz King' later turnedhis attention to the composition of operetta, and completed 16 stage worksbesides more than 500 orchestral compositions - including the most famous ofall waltzes, The Blue Danube (1867). Johann Strauss II died in Vienna on3 June 1899.
The Marco Polo Strauss Edition is a milestone inrecording history, presenting, for the first time ever, the entire orchestraloutput of the 'Waltz King'. Despite their supremely high standard of musicalinvention, the majority of the compositions have never before been commerciallyrecorded and have been painstakingly assembled from archives around the world.
All performances featured in this series are complete and, wherever possible,the works are played in their original instrumentation as conceived by themaster orchestrator himself, Johann Strauss II.
Johannis-Kaferln,Walzer (Glow-worms, Waltz) Op. 82
After somehesitation, following the death of Johann Strauss I in September 1849, themembers of his orchestra elected his eldest son as their new conductor - a movewhich, in large part, helped to quell the resentment still felt by the pressand certain quarters of Vienna towards the 24-year-old younger Johann and hispro-Revolutionary sympathies of 1848. Along with the orchestra, Johann Son alsotook over the majority of his late father's conducting commitments, and in the springand summer of 1850 he strove with grim determination to be accepted by thepublic as 'Vorgeiger aller Wiener' (Principal Violinist/Conductor of all theViennese).
Aside from his musical gifts, theyounger Johann also inherited his father's love of spectacle, and for 28 July1850 at the Casino Zogernitz in the Viennese suburb of Ober-Dobling heorganised a 'Grand Viennese Public Festival' resplendent "with magnificentball, imposing illuminations and fireworks". It was on this occasion thatthe public was first introduced to Strauss's newly-composed waltz inLandler-style, entitled Johannis-Kaferln, written especially for thisfestival. The splendid work was to prove one of the most successful of theyounger Strauss's early compositions, and handsomely demonstrates (in Waltz 1A)his ability to write countermelody passages of great charm. Johannis-Kaferln
was, moreover, Johann's entry for a music competition held concurrently withthe "magnificent ball". Strauss's first biographer, Ludwig Eisenberg(1894) - though incorrectly recording the date ('1852') and venue ('Sperl') ofthe festival - describes the contest: "Those playing were the famousKalozdy gypsy orchestra, one of the first of the 'brown' bands, which had wonthe favour of foreign lands for gypsy art and whose leader today enjoys greatpopularity in England as a military band master, besides a renowned militaryband and the Strauss Orchestra. Each orchestra played a waltz. The votingresulted from the way in which each visitor wrote on a slip of paper, which hehad been given upon entry, the dance which he considered to be the best. Itwill cause no astonishment that, almost unanimously, the above-named piece[Johannis-Kaferln] received the waltz prize, which was presented to the maestroin the form of a silver cup. The prize-winning entry then had to be repeated 5times by the Strauss Orchestra - and swiftly became known and popular".
On 23 September1850, some eight weeks after the Casino Zogernitz festival, Johann Straussorganised another event (delayed by inclement weather from 9 September), thistime at the popular Universum in Brigittenau, and besides the Strauss Orchestraengaged the services of two other musical ensembles: the 1st Hungarian NationalMusic Society, conducted by Sarkozy Ferencz, and the band of the "laudableImperial-Royal 2nd Field-Artillery Regiment", under its bandmasterSebastian Reinisch. Advertised as a 'Grand Spectacle F?â?¬te with Ball and with alarge-scale, partly-moving Illumination' under the title 'The Church-Day in theFour Elements', the f?â?¬te promised fireworks on water and on land and offered asits highlight 'The Air-Journey on Horseback ?â?á la Paris' - a version of theoriginal pioneered by the Moulin Rouge in Paris, where a lady on a cardboardhorse flew over the audience in a balloon before descending onto the stage. Forthe Viennese presentation, however, special attention was drawn to the factthat "the balloonist is a jockey, and the balloon has been specially madefor this occasion... The horse which today will take part in the air-journey isin no way constructed from cardboard, as the 'Fremdenblatt' totallyunjustifiably reports"! To accompany this evening spectacle Johann Strausscomposed his Luftreise-Marsch (Air-Journey March), which regrettably wasunpublished and has bean lost. Earlier that same day he and "the orchestraof his father, formerly Imperial-Royal Court Ball Music Director JohannStrauss", provided the music for the afternoon ball and, as with the showat the Casino Zogernitz, musical pride of place was given to his waltz Johannis-Kaferln.
In the brief Introduction to the work Strauss musically portrays the startlingappearance of greenish-white phosphorescent lights which signal theillumination of wingless female glow-worms (Lampyris noctiluca), the widespreadEuropean and Siberian beetle which continues to be a familiar night-time sightin the gardens and surrounding countryside of Vienna.
Sans-Souci-Polka(Carefree Polka) Op. 178
Although it istempting to suggest a link between Johann's Sans-Souci-Polka and thedelightful landscaped park of that name in Potsdam, no such association exists.
Strauss in fact composed this dance novelty for his own benefit ball held on 21January 1856 in Karl Schwender's elegant entertainment establishment in theViennese suburb of Rudolfsheim, and its title reflects a widespreadcontemporary vogue for the French language. The Sans-Souci-Polka was toprove a particular favourite with Russian audiences during Johann's firstsummer concert season in Pavlovsk. Together with an orchestra of around 38-40players. Strauss gave daily concerts at the Vauxhall Pavilion from May untilOctober that year, introducing the Sans-Souci-Polka on the programme ofthe opening concert on 18 May (= 6 May, Russian calendar). The work wasimmediately encored and had to be repeated twice more at the end of theevening, well after midnight. During the Pavlovsk season Strauss was to playthe work no less than 99 times - second only in popularity to Johann's waltz Juristen-Ball-Tanze
W. Tatzelt's titlepage illustration for the first piano edition of Strauss's polka depicts apeaceful rural setting with a dreamy-eyed young boy in Austrian costume, whilein the clouds he pictures his 'castle in the air' - in this case the beautiful18th-century Laxenburg Castle situated some 10 miles (16 km) south of Viennawhich, from the reign of the Empress Maria Theresia, served as the spring andautumn residence of the Imperial Habsburg family and which was the birth