Richard Strauss

Dance Suite, for small orchestra (after F. Couperin's keyboard works), o.Op. 107 (TrV 245, AV 107)

    Description by James Leonard

    German composer Richard Strauss was an old hand at classical parody by the time he was commissioned by the Vienna Staatsoper to compose a work to be performed in the Redoutensaal of the Imperial Palace in 1920. Strauss had set Molière's play Le bourgeois gentilhomme (1918) to faux-French music and his opera Ariadne auf Naxos (1911-1912) is itself a highly elevated pastiche. In the Dance Suite, Strauss took pieces composed by the greatest of the French clavecinists, François Couperin, and orchestrated them in a stylized manner that joined Strauss' orchestral sensibility with his idiosyncratic understanding of French Baroque performance practice. The result is a work that is no longer either Couperin's nor yet wholly Strauss', but a charming mixture of both. The movements of the Dance Suite are as follows: "Einzug und feierlicher Reigen" (Entry and Solemn Round), a stately double-dotted French overture followed by a majestic Round dance; "Courante," a minor-keyed dance for string orchestra later joined by solo trumpet; "Carillon," a beguiling dance for celesta and harpsichord; "Sarabande," severe outer sections flanking a more serene central section; "Gavotte," a lightly scored pseudo-trio sonata movement for viola, flute, and harpsichord with a trio for oboes and bassoon; "Tourbillion" is a rushing contrapuntal piece for small string orchestra and harpsichord with a slower and more graceful trio for solo violin, solo viola, and harp; "Allemande," a festive dance for brass and strings; and "Marche," a short, quick march movement starting with strings, harpsichord, and celesta ending with the whole orchestra.

    Parts/Movements

    1. Einzug und feierlicher Reigen
    2. Courante
    3. Carillion
    4. Sarabande
    5. Gavotte (with two trios)
    6. Wirbeltanz
    7. Allemande et Menuet
    8. Marsch

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2015 Melodiya MELCD 1002320
    2011 Brilliant Classics 9249
    2006 COE 809
    2005 Brilliant 7591
    1999 Angel Records 73614
    1999 Koch Schwann 36535-2
    1992 EMI Music Distribution 64350
    EMI Music Distribution 68742
    Brilliant 7591/9
    Denon Records 6366
    ASV 809