STRAUSS II, J.: 100 Most Famous Works, Vol. 7 (Alfred Walter/ Johannes Wildner/ Polish State Philharmonic Orchestra (Katowice)/ Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra/ Slovak State Philharmonic Orchestra) (Naxos: 8.554523)
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Johann Strauss II(1825-1899)
100 Most Famous WorksVol. 7
Johann Strauss II, themost famous and enduringly successful nineteenth century light music composer,was born in Vienna on 25 October 1825. Building upon the firm musicalfoundations laid by his father, Johann Strauss I (1804-1849) and Joseph Lanner(1801-1843), the younger Johann (along with his brothers, Josef and Eduard)achieved so high a development of the classical Viennese waltz that it becameas much a feature of the concert hall as of the ballroom. For more than half acentury Johann II captivated not only Vienna but also the whole of Europe andAmerica with his abundantly tuneful waltzes, polkas, quadrilles and marches.
The appeal of his music bridged all social strata, and his genius was reveredby such masters as Verdi, Brahms and Richard Strauss. The thrice-married"Waltz King" later turned his attention to the composition ofoperetta, and completed 16 stage works (among them Die Fledermaus, EineNacht in Venedig and Der Zigeunerbaron) besides more than 500orchestral compositions - including the most famous of all waltzes, The BlueDanube (1867). Johann Strauss II died in Vienna on 3 June 1899.
The Marco Polo StraussEdition, from which these recordings were selected, is a milestone in recordinghistory, presenting, for the first time ever, the entire orchestral output ofthe "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 the"master orchestrator" himself, Johann Strauss II.
 Cagliostro in Wien (Cagliostro in Vienna) Overture
The concert tour of Italy which Johann Strauss undertook with the JuliusLangenbach Orchestra during May 1874 ended 'officially' at the end of thatmonth with performances in Graz. The composer did not return immediately to hisvilla in Hietzing - giving rise to rumours that he was intending to establishresidence at Graz -but remained in the Styrian capital, intending to makeexcursions for recuperation to the little spa-resort of Romerbad in LowerStyria. While in Graz Johann held meetings with several librettists, whobrought him proposals or completed drafts for his next operetta. His choicefell eventually to a subject furnished by Richard Genee and F. Zell (the nomde plume of an erstwhile captain with the Danube Steamship Company, CamilloWalzel). On 7 August 1874, the day before Johann returned to Vienna, the IllustrirtesWiener Extrablatt informed its readers. "The libretto for the newStrauss operetta is already finished and has been sent to the composer. Theprincipal female r??les are being composed for the ladies Geistinger andNittinger". In the event, Marie Geistinger created the r??le of LorenzaFeliciani in the new stage work, while Inna Nittinger (the first PrinceOrlofsky in Die Fledermaus) was not cast.
On 22 November 1874, the Viennese Fremden-Blatt newspaperreported on Johann Strauss's future plans as an operetta composer, beforereturning to his present activities in this field: "Meanwhile, Strauss isworking very hard on the instrumentation of his latest operetta, 'Wien anno1780' ['Vienna 1780'], or, as the title has now been finally determined,'Cagliostro in Wien' ...The opera is in three sections' 1. A jubilee on theT??rkenschanze, 2. The magician from the Blue Lord, 3. The Sleep-Walker. Theseare supposed to present an historically accurate picture of social life in ourImperial city in 1783 with, in the foreground, the highly interesting figuresof [the ingenious alchemist and swindler, Count Alessandro] Cagliostro and hislifelong companion Lorenza Feliciani, to our knowledge portrayed in drama forthe first time". As is clear from this announcement, Johann Strausswas thereby being afforded the opportunity, so frequently demanded by publicand press alike, to apply his inventive gifts to a stage work with aspecifically Viennese background. However, it proved to be a fateful error thathis librettists selected material based on events in 1783, the centenary of theyear in which Vienna was liberated from its second siege by the Turks. As theoperetta's opening scenes show, Johann Strauss understood"historical" Viennese music, but it was not in his blood; he was bytemperament and nature a man of the times. In an historic operetta he was notfreely able to develop his individuality, and this ultimately damaged thesuccess of Cagliostro in Wien. Despite this, the Neues Fremden-Blatt (3.03.1875)felt moved to observe that "amongst all the colourful confusion andcommotion the most charming Strauss music rings and sings, always genuineViennese original melody whether it strikes an old, fatherly melodious note, orwhether - as often happened - in very evident anachronistic mood it overridesthe span of 90 years (1783 to 1873) with the quite overflowing verve of themodern waltz [and] the modern quick polka".
The premi?¿re of Strauss's new operetta, which took place at the Theateran der Wien on 27 February 1875, found itself in the shadow of two musicalsensations: the first performance of Ein deutsches Requiem by JohannesBrahms and a concert conducted by Richard Wagner. Mindful of this, the criticLudwig Speidel wrote in the Fremden-Blatt on 3 March 1875: "To sayin one breath Richard Wagner, Johannes Brahms and Johann Strauss - is that asin? In any event, I allow myself to do it". During the course ofhis first-night review of Cagliostro in Wien, Speidel noted two musicalhighlights in Act 2: "The first is characterised by the sextet (actually adoubled vocal trio) of the old women 'Wundermann, hor' uns an' - a trippingpolka of thrilling effect - and also the waltz duet in D-major ... in which therebreathes the dancing soul of Vienna". Both themes also feature togood effect in the overture Johann Strauss scored for his three act operetta, Cagliostroin Wien.
The Allegro non troppo introductory music to the overture isbased on Blasoni's words "Immer vorworts" from the Act 1 Quartet (No.
3). After a clarinet cadenza, a Moderato passage presents theaccompaniment to Frau Adami's words "Ja ja! So war ich, die Loeken"from the Act 2 Trio (No. 11) and this Trio is also the source of the Pocomeno section which follows. Then comes an Allegro passage based onpart of the Act 1 Quintet (No. 7), sung by Cagliostro to the words"Geschwindigkeit ohne Hexerei". With the Tempo di Valse, Straussallows the listener a foretaste of music from the enchanting Act 2 Duet (No.
13) for Cagliostro's servant Blasoni and the abysmally deceived Frau Adami:"Konnt' ich mit Ihnen fliegen durchs Leben". Next, an Allegro sectionagain based on "Immer vorworts" (Act 1 Quartet, No. 3) leads into an Allegrettomoderato rendering from Act 2 (No. 9), accompanying the sextet of oldladies ("Wundermann, la?ƒ in neuem Glanz wieder uns eilen froh zumTanz") After a reprise of the Tempo di Valse, a 17-bar Vivo linkpassage leads directly into music from the Act 3 Finale (accompaniment to thewords "Horst Du, es nahen schon die Racher"), which provides thebrilliant climax to the overture.
Unusually for an overture to a Johann Strauss stage work, that for Cagliostroin