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CD Review

Richard Strauss


  • Schlagobers (Ballet), Op. 70
Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra/Hiroshi Wakasugi
Recorded 22-25 July, 1988 in Toda Public Hall, Saitama
Recording Director: Yoshiharu Kawaguchi
Denon CO-73414 DDD 74:08
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"Fresh whipped cream" is the answer to "What are Schlagobers ?" The title of this Strauss ballet, performed and hastily shelved in 1924, implicates the frothiness of this work (about kids hallucinating in a candy store). It is restored here with the utmost care by Denon. The liner notes for this single disc include a libretto, a scene-by-scene thematic analysis with CD indexing, notes on the work's composition, two pages of themes in musical notation (also indexed), and biographies of the conductor and orchestra. In three languages, the whole booklet runs 31 pages.

The Metropolitan players display a refined timbre; the playing is delicate, verging on the timid. They don't let themselves go in the "Ländler" (where a Viennese orchestra might put an extra charge into their vibrato). In truth, the cumulative effect of Schlagobers obviates that want. The score does have its moments. The "Dance of the Tea Flower Princess and Four Attendants" shows off the flute in enchanting concertino. Strauss is clearly a genius at characterization, but he's not playing for high stakes this time out. After you have experienced Death and Transfiguration this comes as a bit of a shock. For archivists only.

Copyright © 1998, Robert J. Sullivan