Marble Surface

Joseph Lanner

Die Romantiker, Walzer, Op. 167

Arr. CPE Strauss

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My orchestration, assembled from numerous scores, of this very famous waltz, first performed on the 21st August 1840 in the Casino Zögemitz. In my opinion it has a strong case for being the first great Viennese waltz.

There are lots of recordings, and I have a fair number, but it has got to the point where I can’t listen to any of them without shouting at the Ipod. As this is one of my all time favourite waltzes, and as one of the reasons I do this is to hear music played the way I want to hear it, here is my version.

I don’t have access to the original score, and I am not sure it still exists. I think the original Mechetti orchestral parts are around, but no nearer than Vienna. I’ve mostly based this on the Mechetti quartet parts, as they are the most contemporary source I have been able to find. I think the notes are correct, and the phrasing and articulation seem right for the period. Some of the others are “improved”. Most alter Lanner’s phrasing. The Peters piano score even improves some of Lanner’s most original harmonies to something entirely different.

I’ve used Lanner’s orchestra as far as it is possible to work out what it was. Definitely no harp or glockenspiel. Probably no cymbals. 4 trumpets, 2 horns, trombone and bass trombone. No ophicleide or bombardon (unusually). Two of the trumpet players alternate with horns. There may have been a third or fourth horn part, but the Mechetti list of instruments doesn’t have them.

The most interesting thing I found was the countermelody in waltz 4A. I’ve never heard it, but it is in the Mechetti quartet edition. I’ve assumed it is genuine.

This is my take on it. I’ve trusted Lanner. He knows the difference between forte and fortissimo, knows what phrase marks mean and writes staccato when he wants it. I’ve not done this with 1890’s earphones on, so you’ll find the texture a lot sparer than “normal”. A lot of this is to do with the orchestra not having horns in it for a lot of the time, but also in observing the written note lengths. For example, the very first notes of the piece are a quaver, dotted quaver rest and a semiquaver. That makes the first note relatively short and there is quite a bit of air before the semiquaver. This motif is repeated. I don’t know of a single orchestral recording that plays it as marked.

I’ve taken this approach all the way through, and the difference is amazing. You may not like the result, and I’m obviously not sure Lanner would have played it like this, but it’s possible. I think it goes with a swing.

I can at least listen to it without swearing.