Hans Christian LUMBYE (1810-1874)
The Best of Lumbye
Champagne Galop No. 1 (1845) [2:17]
Dronning Louise Vals (Queen Louise Waltz) (1868) [4:49]
Kobenhavns Jernbanedamp Galop (Copenhagen Steam Railway Galop) (1847) [3:42]
Drømmebilleder Fantasi (Dream Pictures Fantasy) (1846) [9:27]
Salut for August Bournonville Galop (Salute to August Bournonville) (1869) [1:58]
Concert-Polka for two violins (1863) [4:43]
Amélie Vals (Amélie Waltz-Suite) (1846) [10:02]
Krolls Ballklange Vals (Sounds from Kroll’s Dance Hall Waltz-Suite) (1846) [8:19]
St Petersburg Champagne Galop (1850) [2:54]
Britta Polka (1864) [2:34]
Columbine Polka-Mazurka (1862) [3:57]
Telegraph Galop (1844) [3:39]
Hesperus (Klänge) Waltz (1858) [8:49]
Finale-Galop from “Livjægerne på Amager” (The Guardsmen of Amager) (1871) [3:24]
Sergei Azizian, Marianne Melnik (violins)
Tivoli Symphony Orchestra/Giordano Bellincampi, David Riddell, Tamás Vetö
NAXOS 8.556843 [71:21]

As enthusiasts will know already, for some years Naxos have been issuing on their Marco Polo label a series of discs of the Tivoli Symphony Orchestra playing the music of Lumbye. Eleven have been issued in all. I am unclear whether more are expected. Now Naxos have issued this disc drawn from the series under the title “The Best of Hans Christian Lumbye”.

Whether or not they are the best items I do not know, but certainly every one is a little masterpiece of its genre, with a surprising variety of character, tempo and orchestration. This is a disc that can be listened to right through with no hint of repetition or dullness. It opens with the Champagne Galop. This sets the pattern for a series of works in many of which an extra-musical idea yields wonderful musical results. In this case it is the popping of corks, in the case of the Steam Railway Galop it is the imitation of early railway engines and in the Drømmebilleder - my personal favourite - it is a poem describing the dreams of a young girl. Lumbye’s mastery of orchestration is demonstrated throughout the programme, including the ingenious Concert-Polka for two violins, the Britta Polka with its trumpet tune indebted to Bach, and the Telegraph Galop for two orchestras “telegraphing” material to each other. Lumbye is sometimes called the “Strauss of the North” but this is misleading in suggesting some sort of imitation of Viennese dance music. Essentially Lumbye is his own man, his music different in character and sound from that of any of the Strauss family. Indeed after listening to this disc I am certain that Lumbye is at least as good a composer as any of them, and wish that the many Johann Strauss gala concerts might be varied with an occasional Lumbye Gala.

It is appropriate that everything is played by the orchestra of the Copenhagen amusement park which opened in 1843 with Lumbye as its conductor of and composer. It hardly needs saying that they know and understand the idiom of this music and play it with both gusto and finesse. Three conductors are used but I could hear no difference in their approach to the music which they all treat with the care it so richly deserves. The recordings are all clear and full. In addition in some ways the disc would be worth having just for the booklet notes by Knud Arne Jørgensen which describe the background to each work in fascinating detail.

All in all this disc is an absolute winner for anyone who enjoys the genre. Its only fault is that you may well decide, after hearing it, that you must have all eleven of the discs from which it is drawn. When the music is as good as this the disc must surely be an effective sprat to catch a mackerel for the Marco Polo series.

John Sheppard

Every one is a little masterpiece of its genre.

see also review by Brian Wilson (October 2010 Bargain of the Month)