Werner Müller

Werner Müller Plays Leroy Anderson / Mozart 40

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Werner Müller Plays Leroy Anderson is an entry resulting from a canvassing of the Decca/London Phase 4 catalog in which reissue label Vocalion -- a division of Dutton -- is involved. Müller was a mainstay of postwar German radio whose work was central to establishing the popularity of singer Caterina Valente; he also specialized in creating pop orchestral travelogs of various kinds. Müller left behind an enormous body of recordings that are alternatively fascinating and boring; he experimented a great deal with discrete stereo separation and made imaginative use of unusual orchestral scoring, often in combination with electronic and rock instruments. That said, Werner Müller Plays Leroy Anderson is not an album even Müller's fans would regard very highly, and for good reason; Anderson's music is thoroughly incompatible to Müller's interventionist approach to scoring. Why would you want to hear Fiddle Faddle with the strings doubled by a xylophone?

The filler LP, Mozart 40, is at least interesting in spots. This Phase 4 album takes a handful of popular classical themes and subjects them to the Müller treatment, and as these familiar tunes are so often adapted elsewhere, the pain of transcription is not quite as unbearable. One piece, Jeux Interdits, does not appear drawn from the classics and might be original; it is the most interesting of the 10 tracks making up Mozart 40, though some of the others are also good. Nevertheless, none of the material is great; Müller's work for Phase 4 comes from the last part of his career, and the work that distinguishes him the most belongs to the 1950s and '60s with the dance orchestra of the RIAS. The Phase 4 sound has an unpredictable result on compact disc; sometimes the midrange is a little bright, though the stereo separation remains as true and striking as it did on LPs, and it can be said that Michael Dutton seems to get better results in transferring Phase 4 material to disc than Decca did in the 1990s. Even so, Werner Müller Plays Leroy Anderson should be your last choice for anything Leroy Anderson and arguably the same might be true in regard to Werner Müller.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 02:18
2 02:42
3 02:29
4 02:41
5 02:48
6 02:47
7 02:14
8 02:38
9 03:18
10 02:47
11 02:26
12 03:26
Symphony No. 40 in G minor, K. 550
13 04:21
14 03:28
Piano Concerto No. 21 in C major ("Elvira Madigan") K. 467
15 03:54
Messiah, oratorio, HWV 56
16 03:33
Symphony No. 9 in D minor ("Choral"), Op. 125
17 04:05
Also sprach Zarathustra (Thus Spoke Zoroaster), tone poem for orchestra, Op. 30 (TrV 176)
18 01:39
Orchestral Suite No. 3 in D major, BWV 1068
19 04:44
20 03:41
21 04:09
Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5, for voice & 8 cellos, A. 389
22 04:14
blue highlight denotes track pick