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Richard Strauss

Annotated Discography

Suite in B Flat Major for 13 Wind Instruments, Op. 4

Philips 438733-2
Edo de Waart/Netherlands Wind Ensemble (1972)

The opus numbers of Strauss' early works mislead people. For example, Strauss wrote this after his Op. 7 Serenade and in fact assigned it its current opus number in 1911. For some reason, commentators underrate this work, especially compared to the Serenade. I believe the opposite. It shows far more ingenuity and substance. Nothing in the Serenade, for example, comes up to the third-movement Gavotte, in which we see glimpses of Eulenspiegel for the first time. The slow movement is not another Mendelssohn Lied, Strauss' usual slow movement in his early period, but a shortened sonata form built of thematic cells. The first movement, the weakest of the four, nevertheless exhibits greater coherence than the Serenade. Finally, Strauss scores with the variety of color inherent in a wind ensemble. One shouldn't take this for granted; after all, the late Sonatine No. 1 is almost monochromatic.

De Waart does a fair job. He doesn't make the work as stirring as it could be, but he doesn't overdo it either. The fingerwork of the Netherlanders makes less noise than in the Sonatine No. 1. In all, the ensemble shows the attractions of the piece.

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