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Marble Surface

Johann Strauss I

Sorgenbrecher, Walzer, Op. 230

00:00 / 05:25

My realisation from something that purports to be a full score, and the Haslinger piano score, of this waltz by Johann Strauss I. It is usually referred to as Sorgenbrecher, but the score has Die Sorgenbrecher. Haslinger has the former. I was asked to do it, but it’s one of my favourite Strauss father waltzes so I didn’t need much persuasion. I only restrained myself from doing it earlier because there are a couple of reasonable recordings with real orchestras, but one of the main reasons I do this work is to hear the music played the way I want it to be played, so I’ve given in and done it.

The Paul Angerer recording is as near is a modern orchestra can get to Strauss’s score, but I think he only has two trumpets rather than the four Strauss calls for, and they can’t play the low notes in the score. The guilty pleasure is Robert Stolz’s version, which unashamedly performs it as if it had been written in 1898 rather than 1848, harp and (maybe) glockenspiel and all. I shouldn’t like it, but … Both recordings are on Youtube. Both are a bit slower than me but not much though I think both suffer by having a fairly muddy sound (both acoustics and articulation) and some of the subtleties in Strauss’s orchestration are therefore lost. That’s my excuse anyway.

The full score I have is pretty much Strauss’s orchestration, but I suspect what would have been a G clarinet part has been rewritten for a C clarinet, and the trumpets have been rewritten for trumpet in F. There are a couple of notes which are out of range for the C clarinet and quite a few that the F trumpet can’t play. They are, however, left in the score at the original pitch! It’s also badly edited, with pizzicati that are never cancelled and inconsistent articulations that make no sense.

Strauss has written for a single percussion player, playing tympani, side drum and bass drum. I have not doubled the bass drum with cymbals, although it may have been common practice. I have recently read a contemporary article saying that Strauss did not do this under normal circumstances, but Berlioz notes that on Strauss’s Paris visit some of the string players played the glockenspiel etc.. However, having just one percussion player gives a light, clear sound so I’ve left it as written.

It’s a very good waltz, but feels a bit old fashioned to me. It dates from 1848 but could have been written 10 or 15 years earlier without sounding out of place. The trumpets doubling on horns are definitely common in Lanner. Incidentally, I still don’t know how that works. Sometimes the players have half a bar to swap instruments. They are valve instruments so need two hands to play!

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