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Richard Strauss

Annotated Discography

Tanzsuite aus Couperin

EMI CMS764350-2

EMI CMS764350-2
Rudolf Kempe/Staatskapelle Dresden (1973)

In this odd work, arrangements of keyboard pieces by François Couperin, Strauss fails to repeat his success in Der Burger als Edelmann. Three movements of the eight – "Carillon," "Gavotte," and "Wirbeltanz" – succeed wholly. In the others, Strauss merely orchestrates, and, given the standard we have come to expect, merely competently at that. We haven't the personality and fancy Stravinsky put into Pulcinella or Strauss into his earlier work with Lully, for that matter. We don't even feel the guilty pleasure of a gargantuan Stokowksi approach to Bach. Kempe makes the three movements dance indeed, particularly in the exquisite "Carillon" and the turbulent "Wirbeltanz" (the storm rages as a delightful miniature, rather than a true gale). For the sake of those three, I wanted Kempe to conjure a miracle, but the other five sections don't seem to interest him. The pulse drags (dangerous in a suite of dances), and the playing surprisingly gets a bit sloppy and opaque, particularly in the "Courante." Comes any of the other three movements, and it's a different team altogether – kind of like watching indifferent ballplayers galvanizing around a star.

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