Carl (or Karl) Michael Ziehrer would have been known during his heyday as one of the Strauss dynasty's chief rivals in Vienna, but even by the time of his death in 1922 he had been almost forgotten. This release, part of a series apparently emanating from the composer's familial or financial descendants (the issuer is identified as C.M. Ziehrer Musik), shows why he did not last as the Strausses have; there isn't a tune in the bunch that will leave you whistling on the way out the door. However, for fans of the Viennese waltz, polka, and march, there is plenty to enjoy here. This disc is mostly devoted to polkas, marches, and instrumental operetta selections, with only three waltzes in evidence. The booklet notes (in German and English) are pretty minimal describing only the origin of each piece and not giving a wider picture of Ziehrer's music or career, so except for buyers of the entire series there's no way of knowing whether these proportions are typical. The takes on the venerable polka, in any event, are of great interest to those trying to parse out what a Viennese audience would have heard in musical rhythms of the time. Try the Nervös Polka française, Op. 433 (track 7), which is less nervous than hesitantly coquettish. It's a charming piece, quite different rhythmically from the other polkas on the album (for one in the Strauss II vein, sample the Sternschnuppen Polka schnell, Op. 510 [Shooting Star Fast Polka]). What a Böhmische Scherz-Polka (Bohemian Joke Polka) might characteristically consist of is not clarified by either the music or the notes, but this is another charming and distinctive piece with a frivolous lightness uncommon in the collective Strauss oeuvre. Despite bargain-basement sound and less-than-sparkling performances by the Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra, this is recommended for serious waltz lovers.
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AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|Die drei Wünsche, operette|
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