Johann Strauss

Editor’s choice : Gramophone 2005 : Lower the eyebrows, please – this gutsy ‘period’ Strauss is a joy Most of us have got used to period instruments playing Beethoven but ‘early music’ groups tackling later repertoire still raise eyebrows. Similarly, the suggestion that there is a good composer named Strauss whose first name is not Richard usually invokes derision. Both of these sniffy attitudes are bravely challenged by Jos van Immerseel, who penitently writes that ‘like many musicians I found Strauss’s music a bit cheap. This wasn’t the case when I began studying music as a 10-year-old and sight-read Strauss waltzes.I liked the music, but the pleasure was short-lived. In the music school where I next studied, it was forbidden to play music by Strauss (or to enjoy anything); Bach and Czerny replaced Strauss on the music desk. The prejudice against Strauss’s “unworthy” music made it impossible for me to appreciate even his orchestral scores.’ Aided by a new critical edition published by Bärenreiter, Immerseel’s vibrant and ostentatious revisionist approach allows no wilting pretentiousness, but instead the superb Anima Eterna use their period instruments to deliver full-on, gutsy, direct performances that are an unaffected joy. David Vickers