Waltz King!

Let me tell you about performing waltzes:

It was Johann Strauss II (the son), who earned that title, because he composed many waltz tunes, operettas, and other music that came to be loved by audiences world-wide.

It turns out that – in my view – there was another Waltz king: That is conductor Carlos Kleiber.

Kleiber is sensational in his ability to extract terrific playing from orchestral members. And in the music of Strauss, there are subtle aspects that make all the difference in the way the music comes across.

As an example, you’ve all heard the accompanying “Um-pa-pa” that are played by sections of the orchestra, while the melody is played by the strings or the winds. If you listen carefully, you’ll hear that the Viennese style of performing this accompaniment is to shorten the “Um”, and to ever so slightly lengthen the second accompanying sound.

This gives the music an amazing bounce, which is characteristic of well-performed waltzes. Let me illustrate with the following terrific video: (You can hear the “Um-pa-pa’s right at the start)  


And here is Carlos Kleiber leading the Acceleration Waltz op.234 by Strauss:  

http://youtu.be/K0Vt3fgBVng   And let me end with the playing of a Hungarian Czardas, where the Um-pa’s are less evident. Let the introduction come to and end, and enjoy the romping fun:  


Tags: Waltz, Johann Strauss, Carlos Kleiber, Vienna Philharmonic

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