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In 1848 Johann Strauss junior was on the other side of the barricades with his Revolution March and provocative performances of La Marseillaise. Eventually he was accepted by the royal household and, more importantly, by the leading composers of the day. He performed Liszt, Wagner and Verdi while Vienna still sniffed at them, and Brahms let down his critical guard sufficiently to liken his orchestration to Mozart's in competence and economy. That he was waltzing on top form till the end of his life is clear from this duet in the Wiener Blut operetta of 1899 [listen -- track 2, 2:55-4:12].

That the Second Viennese School follows logically and effortlessly on the First is clear from the Mozart Figaro and Flute excerpts, but still more so in the Schubert Rosamunde music. The initial Andantino, which Schubert quoted in his own works as often as he could, goes just too fast here (the only error of judgment on an outstanding disc), so I quote the first Minore [listen -- track 10, 1:50-3:04]. The enchanting freedom and flexibility of this playing silences any doubt. The other 'Schubert' piece has a tune anyone can recognise, but it comes from Heinrich Berté's confection known in Britain as 'Lilac Time'.

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Copyright © 28 August 2004 Robert Anderson, London UK


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