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Vienna Philharmonic Rounds Out Brilliant Carnegie Residency

New York
Carnegie Hall
03/04/2012 -  
Richard Strauss: Tod und Verklärung, Op. 24 – Der Rosenkavalier Suite, Op. 59
Johan Strauss, Jr: Die Fledermaus: Overture – Dances

Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, Lorin Maazel (conductor)

L. Maazel (Courtesy of V.P.)

The third of this year’s stunning Vienna Philharmonic residency at Carnegie Hall dwelled on two Strausses: the late Romantic composer Richard and the popular late nineteenth-century waltz king Johann. Richard’s scintillating Tod und Verklärung, or Death and Resurrection, tells of an artist’s death. Strauss wrote it 60 years before his own demise, but found it prophetic as he approached his end. It is a deeply moving piece that gnaws at the emotions. Maazel’s reading of it reached the level of brilliance. With the Vienna Philharmonic at his disposal, tears were visible in the audience. This is what music should be.

Late in life Strauss also arranged a suite of orchestral music from his famed opera Der Rosenkavalier. Its premiere took place in Carnegie Hall in October 1944, while the composer’s country was still at war with the United States. Military conflict is the furthest thing from it, however. In a fluent restructuring of the music, it takes us through the opera’s great scenes but showily ends with the Act II waltz identified with the caddish Baron Ochs. Again Maazel’s interpretation demonstrated remarkable insight and brought the surroundings of old Vienna back to radiant life.

It was no disappointment to follow those selections with Johann Strauss’s more playful dances, launched by the overture to his operetta Die Fledermaus. The polkas and waltzes and csardas we all remember from PBS New Years Eve broadcasts are schmaltzy as ever, but it was a rare treat to have the Vienna Philharmonic play them live. The Perpetual Motion and Hail to Hungary encores were well placed to add aftertastes of sweetness.

Paul du Quenoy



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