BARGAIN OF THE MONTH
Hans Christian LUMBYE (1810-1874)
The Best of Hans Christian Lumbye
Champagne Galop No. 1 (1845)1 [2:17]
Dronning Louise Vals (Queen Louise Waltz) (1868)1 [4:49]
Københavns Jernbanedamp Galop (Copenhagen Steam Railway Galop) (1847)1 [3:52]
Drømmebilleder, Fantasi (Dream Pictures, Fantasia) (1846)2 [9:27]
Salut for August Bournonville, Galop (Salute to August Bournonville) (1869)1 [1:58]
Concert-Polka for two violins (1863)1 [4:43]
Amélie Vals (Amélie Waltz-Suite) (1846)1 [10:02]
Krolls Ballklange, Vals (Sounds from Kroll’s Dance Hall, Waltz-Suite) (1846)1 [8:19]
Petersborg Champagne Galop fra suiten ‘Erindringer fra St. Petersborg’ (St Petersburg Champagne Galop, from the suite Memories of St Petersburg) (1850)2 [2:54]
Britta Polka (1864)1 [2:34]
Columbine Polka-Mazurka (1862)1 [3:57]
Telegraph Galop (1844)3 [3:39]
Hesperus (Klänge), Waltz (1858)3 [8:49]
Finale-Galop from ‘Livjægerne på Amager’ (The Guardsmen of Amager) (1871)1 [3:24]
Tivoli Symphony Orchestra/Giordano Bellincampi1; David Riddell2; Tamás Vetö3
All tracks previously released on Marco Polo, 1998-2005. DDD
NAXOS 8.556843 [71:21]
This is a single-CD distillation of the Marco Polo 11-CD complete recording of the music of Hans Christian Lumbye, the so-called ‘Strauss of the North’. Not surprisingly, the Naxos selection concentrates on Lumbye’s better-known works, mostly taken from Volume 1 of the Marco Polo series (8.223743, seven tracks), and Volume 3 (8.225122, three tracks) on which Giordano Bellincampi conducts. The other tracks come from 8.225264 (David Riddell) and 8.225171 (Tamas Vetö). It’s especially apt that the selection should be released now, since Lumbye was born in 1810, a bi-centenary which might otherwise have been lost among this year’s other musical celebrations.
The analogy with the Strauss family, especially Johann II is apt, particularly as Georges Prêtre included the Champagne Galop (track 1 on the Naxos CD) in the 2010 New Year’s Day Concert from Vienna (Decca DVD 0743376 or two CDs 478 2113 - see review). With the exception of the Drømmebilleder (Dream Pictures) Fantasia (track 4), most of the dances are in the waltz or galop format and some of the titles are even reminiscent of the music of the Viennese family.
The title of the opening piece, the well-known Champagne Galop No.1 recalls Johann Strauss’s Champagne Polka (on The Very Best of Strauss, Naxos 8.552115/6). There’s more popping of Champagne corks on track 9. Lumbye’s Erdringer fra St Petersburg (Recollections of St Petersburg) match the Erinnerung an Covent Garden (Recollection of Covent Garden, based on the tune Champagne Charley, on Johann Strauss Junior: Most Famous Works, Volume 6, Naxos 8.554522), Erinnerung an Berlin (Marco Polo Johann Strauss I, Volume 7, 8.225283) and Abschied von S Petersburg (Johann Straus II, Vol.2, Naxos 8.554518).There are even Strauss analogues for Lumbye’s most famous work, the Jernbanedamp Galop (Steam Railway Galop, tr.3) in the form of Eduard Strauss’s Bahn frei! (Clear the tracks, Marco Polo 8.223483), Johann II’s Vergnügungszug (Pleasure Excursion Train, Naxos 8.554526) and Johann Senior’s Eisenbahnlustwalzer (literally Railway Pleasure Waltz, Marco Polo 8.225287).
Three conductors feature in the selections, though Giordano Bellincampi has the lion’s share. All the pieces are idiomatically performed - I didn’t detect any divergence of style among the three - and well recorded. The contributions of Sergei Azizian and Marianne Melnik in the Concert Polka (tr.6) are also excellent. I greatly enjoyed listening, especially as it allowed me to make the acquaintance of more than the two or three pieces that I knew. I especially enjoyed the Drømmebilleder Fantasia (tr.4), with its relief from the dance format. It’s a fine work in its own right, reminiscent of the way in which Josef Strauss transcended the dance format. I’m sure that this will now be among the select CDs that I keep when I need to be cheered up.
You may well be tempted by this selection to invest in some of the other volumes of the Marco Polo collection. The Naxos ‘family’ also offers a sampling on the Danacord label (Tivoli Symphony Orchestra/Thomas Jensen, DACOCD503). This is a reissue of a series of classic recordings from the early 1940s, but it duplicates several of the items on the Naxos collection. I see no reason to prefer that CD to the less expensive Naxos, unless you are attracted by the classics status of the recordings or prefer a slightly faster tempo for most of the pieces, including, for example the Champagne Galop (1:58 against 2:17) or the Railway Galop (3:35 against 3:52). I don’t think the Naxos performances at all dilatory, but subscribers to the Naxos Music Library can compare the two recordings there.
The Naxos Music Library will also give you access to a 1993 collection on Chandos: Festival at Tivoli (Danish National SO/Gennady Rozhdestvensky, CHAN10354X). Again, the collection duplicates the Naxos CD - including the wonderful Drømmebilleder - so, though it’s offered at lower-mid-price, little more than the Naxos, I see no reason to prefer it, unless you plan to download it in mp3 for £4.99 - here. (The lossless download costs £7.99, not much of a saving when the CD can be had for £6.50 from some dealers.) Rozhdestvensky’s tempi are very close to those of his Naxos competitors.
Another budget-price recording, from Collins, now on Regis (Odense SO/Peter Guth, RRC1156, around £5), offers surprisingly little overlap with the Naxos - just one item. I haven’t heard this CD, but it has received very favourable reviews, so might well be regarded as a pendant to the Naxos. Its companion on Regis RRC1155 contains too much overlapping material to be recommended alongside the Naxos.
Prêtre’s Champagne Galop from the 2010 New Year Concert (see above) is in a class of its own, since it’s embedded in the music of the Strauss family - in one of the best concerts of its kind for many years. I enjoyed it so much that I see that I forgot to mention the Lumbye - a shame because he did it proud.
The notes in the Naxos booklet are very detailed: they dispelled a number of popular misconceptions that I had accumulated, especially concerning the Railway Galop. I had somehow assumed that this referred to a fun ride in the Tivoli Gardens, where Lumbye was the orchestral director, rather than to the first railway line to be inaugurated in Denmark, from Copenhagen to Roskilde.
All in all this is a delightful release, at the very least fully worthy to stand alongside the selections from the Strauss family and Ziehrer which Naxos advertise in the booklet and on the insert. I’d just have liked a more stylish cover shot.
Joins my select list of music for cheering up.