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Salon Orchestral Favourites III
Antonín DVOŘÁK (1841-1904) Humoresque
Edward ELGAR (1857-1934) Chanson de Matin, Chanson de Nuit, Salut d'Amour
Julius FUCÍK (1872-1916) Florentine march (1907)
Benjamin GODARD (1849-1895) Berceuse
Richard HEUBERGER (1850-1914) The Opera Ball: Intermezzo
Emmerich KÁLMÁN (1882-1953) Die Csárdásfürstin: selection (1925)
Karel KOMZÁK (1850-1905) Storm galop
Fritz KREISLER (1875-1962) Liebesleid, Liebesfreud
Jules MASSENET (1842-1912) Thais - Meditation (1894)
Johann STRAUSS (1827-1870) The Dragon Fly: Polka Mazurka
Oscar STRAUS (1870-1954) A Waltz Dream: Leise, ganz leise
Franz von SUPPÉ (1819-1895) Devil's march
Schwanen Salon Orchestra/Georg Huber
Rec. Clara-Wieck Auditorium, Sandhausen, Germany, Nov 2002
NAXOS 8.557048 [63.45]

 

For a touch of nostalgia and a winding back of the memory clock one can do nothing better than dip into this series. The first and second volumes must have sold well enough for this third volume to be recorded. The Dvořák, Elgar, Kálman and Massenet pieces will be well known to anyone who remembers Max Jaffa or the Palm Court orchestras from BBC broadcasts in the 1950s and 1960s. Their inception was an extension to those teahouse, hotel and liner trios and chamber ensembles.

The Palm Court orchestra was probably about the size of this Schwanen Salon Orchestra, numbering ten players, while the Max Jaffa Orchestra was substantially larger, with sixteen instrumentalists. One particular characteristic of the Max Jaffa sound was the extra depth of texture provided by full percussion and timpani. Here the timpani is notable by its absence and so the sound is lighter. Although it was quite usual to include a saxophone and double the clarinet it is unusual to come across (as here) an accordion as part of the band.

The dreamy and melancholy feel to Godard's Berceuse is enticing and drifts leisurely along with meandering strings and piano accompaniment. One can be excused for not recognising Heuberger's The Opera Ball, but when you hear the piece you will remember its engaging charm. Of the other lesser-known pieces I find the Florentine March and Storm Galop most refreshing and well suited to the style of this ensemble. They give the impression that they are being played by an orchestra twice the size — both are rousing pieces with good rhythmic interest. Strauss's imaginative Dragon Fly is catchy in texture and woodwind effect yet the violin's contribution is initially too recessed.

The only track I didn't care for was the hasty reading of the usually tranquil Chanson du Matin with a pulsing emphasis that interrupts the flow; its elegance is lost as a result.

The orchestra comprise very capable musicians. It provides a reasonably full spectrum of texture with that unique quality a salon band offers where the virtuoso violinist generally maintains the flow of melody and the piano provides thickening harmonics. The saxophone is a pleasant voice to take on a solo role in Elgar's Chanson de Nuit. My personal preference for balance is probably conditioned by those old BBC broadcasts, where the violin is forward-placed and the piano is fairly recessed. Here the engineer places the piano unnecessarily forward in some of the tracks. At times the violin is recessed to allow reverberation and to give more bloom. This is at the expense of a loss of focus. In the end it is a matter of taste.

Naxos provide two pages of notes on the composers. These are in English and German. There is also a paragraph on the orchestra and its accomplishments.

Raymond J. Walker

see also review by Ian Lace

In the series:

8.554756 Salon Favourites 1: Skater's Waltz; Vienna, City of my dreams; Matinata; Il bacio; Serenata; Brise de Mer Reviews: Ian Lace Harry Downey

8.555344 Salon Favourites 2: Blue Tango; Sudich der Alpen; Avant de mourir; Funiculi, funicula; Belle of the Ball Review: Adrian Smith



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