Reviewing a disc containing twelve wall-to-wall Cimarosa
overtures (mostly indistinguishable especially since nine of them
were in the same key) I recently questioned the justification for many
‘compilation’ discs: are they really worth doing – and for whom are
No doubts about this one, however. It brilliantly recaptures
the golden age (the inter-war years) of the salon orchestra, in a masterly
selection which, though built around the idiom of the tango, is richly
varied. It will hearten many like myself who can claim to have made
a modest contribution to the revival of the popularity of small instrumental
groups playing ‘light’ classics.
Naxos/Marco Polo have issued many discs which survey
British light music of the twentieth century – but almost invariably
in full orchestral form. But the Salonorchester Schwann is entirely
true to its name, its eleven members comprising piano, accordion, string
quintet, flute/piccolo, two clarinets (one doubling on saxophone) and
‘drums’ (as the scores of the day invariably referred to percussion).
A more perfectly-constructed combination for this type of music is hard
Though no British composers figure in this collection,
some at least of the pieces included will be familiar such as Funiculi,
funicula (composed in 1880, it became enormously popular, so that,
as the interesting programme-booklet reveals, Richard Strauss thought
it was a Neapolitan folksong and incorporated it into his Aus Italien).
In contrast, but typical of the obscurity into which the origins of
some of these pieces has disappeared, is that absolutely nothing is
apparently known about the composer, A Ferraris, of an equally familiar
piece – Schwarze Augen (Black Eyes).
But what I find most irresistible about this disc is
the sheer panache of the playing, which conveys an almost tangible sense
of uninhibited enjoyment (allied, needless to say, to effortless virtuosity).
This disc is a must for all who enjoy light music.