Various Artists

The World of Waltz

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As the recordings of André Rieu have shown, the Viennese waltz lives on. This two-disc set comes from Germany, and it's aimed squarely at waltz lovers (and perhaps waltz dancers). The selection is generous, with quite a few lesser-known pieces and just a few standards like Morgenblätter, the Morning Papers Waltz. Actually the program, which has no notes at all and mentions the names of the composers only in very small print, combines several different ensembles and several different types of music, probably all with different original LPs as sources (there is no hint as to the origins of the recordings, but some of them have the characteristic sonic brittleness of analog sound imperfectly transferred to CD). There are orchestral waltz recordings by the Vienna Symphony and the Orchestra of the Vienna State Opera; there is a group called Das grosse Wiener Funkorchester (sorry, Bootsy fans, but "Funk" just means "spark" or "broadcast" in German) that seems to be some kind of studio group aiming toward a sweet string sound; and there is Das Orchester Claudius Alzner, which in the U.S. would be called an easy listening group, lightening up the program with pieces like Moon River. The bottom line is that if you happen to like waltzes, especially in performances that push them in a pop direction, you will enjoy this double disc as long as you're not looking for high sound quality, and if you are curious about the waltz as an ongoing phenomenon, there's lots of European middlebrow raw material here.

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