Johann Strauss: Greatest Hits


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Johann Strauss: Greatest Hits Review

by Blair Sanderson

Except for his operettas, the works of Johann Strauss II mostly consist of short dance pieces, particularly the waltzes that earned him enduring fame as Vienna's Waltz King. As a consequence, most collections of his music tend to offer the best-known waltzes and usually include On the Beautiful Blue Danube, Tales from the Vienna Woods, Vienna Blood, Voices of Spring, and the Emperor Waltz, along with the Pizzicato Polka and the Tritsch-Tratsch-Polka, to represent that popular dance form. Unsurprisingly, Sony's revamped album of Johann Strauss: Greatest Hits has all of those gems, with the less ubiquitous Where the Lemons Bloom and Morning Papers waltzes thrown in for good measure, and all of it is headed up with the scintillating overture to Strauss' greatest operetta, Die Fledermaus. The performers are familiar from previous iterations of Columbia's greatest-hits line, but Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra, Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic, and George Szell and the Cleveland Orchestra are joined on this 2010 release by Fritz Reiner and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra performing on the closing track. As far as any Strauss compilation can be called a greatest-hits album, this one touches on the most important pieces, but somebody's favorite waltz is probably left out, whether it might be Wine, Women and Song; Roses from the South; or any of the hundreds that are usually missed. One might also choose to have a collection by one conductor and one orchestra, for the sake of consistent style and sound, but if the slight variances between these artists and their recordings aren't a problem for the casual listener, then this disc is a reasonable introduction to Strauss' world.

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