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On the positive side, the recording is superb. The musicianship is impressive and the interpretation does give a different perspective (which is explained in the rather rambling booklet notes particularly in respect of tempi). The strings are mellower yet more focused (less vibrato), the woodwind and brass less homogenised than in modern orchestras. The percussion deserves special mention – the period bass drum really does shake the floor.
Mostly, the pieces chosen are dances (Waltzes, Polkas etc.) with the Pizzicato Polka being especially interesting. There is also the Blue Danube and a couple of overtures to comic operas, the ‘Die Fleidermaus’ Overture being perhaps the most substantial music here.
Strauss is elevated by this recording, his great orchestration skills being well demonstrated here. But, however much musical and historical scholarship went into this recording and however good the sound and performance, you cannot escape the limited ambition of the music. Full marks to Anima Eterna for breathing new life into these Viennese standards.