Hans Christian LUMBYE (1810-1874)
Dream Pictures, Fantasia (1846) [8:35]
Queen Louise Waltz (1868) [4:28]
Copenhagen Steam Railway Galop (1847) [3:43]
Salute for August Bournonville (1869) [1:50]
Columbine Polka-Mazurka (1862) [3:36]
Amelie Waltz (1846) [8:08]
Britta Polka (1864) [2:11]
Champagne Galop (1845) [2:05]
Copenhagen Symphony Orchestra/Lavard Friisholm – rec. 1960 ADD/stereo
Johann STRAUSS II (1825-1899)
Graduation Ball, Ballet (arr.
Antal Doráti) [37:14]
New Symphony Orchestra of London/Anatole Fistoulari – rec. 1953 ADD/mono
I’m writing this on New Year’s Day, fresh from enjoying hearing Gustavo
Dudamel conduct the Vienna Philharmonic, so the appropriateness of the
Strauss confection will be obvious. As usual, the music of the Strauss
family was augmented, this year with music by Lehár, Nicolai, Suppé,
Waldteufel and Ziehrer, but the music of Danish composer Lumbye, known as
the Strauss of the North, is equally appropriate to accompany that of
Johann Strauss II.
The opening Dream Pictures is actually more reminiscent of the more
thoughtful music of Johann’s younger brother Josef, whom I was pleased to
see represented in the New Year concert by two works, one of which, Die Nasswalderin Polka, I don’t recall having heard before.
There are only two previous recordings, on Marco Polo and RCA, both
download only, a sad reflection of the neglect of Josef whom I’m not alone
in thinking the most talented member of the family.
Track 3 of the Beulah album contains the best-known of Lumbye’s works, the
very enjoyable Københavns Jernbanedamp Galop (the Copenhagen Steam
Railway Galop), a journey on which, though it then ran for only a few
miles, was an event. It was included in the 2012 New Year concert, with
Mariss Jansons presiding and it’s available on Volume 1 of the Marco Polo
complete edition (8.223743 download only) and on a Naxos selection The Best of Lumbye chosen from the series (8.556843: Bargain of the
review). That collection of goodies performed by the descendants of Lumbye’s own
Tivoli Orchestra remains my recommendation for a single-CD introduction to
this under-rated composer, though I must issue the customary warning that
hearing it could lead to desiring the eleven Marco Polo CDs from which it
comes, five of which can be downloaded from
The Marco Polo performances in general just have the edge over those on
Beulah, with a slightly greater sense of fun and, of course, more modern
recording. As all the items on Beulah are common to both collections, that
might seem to rule out the Beulah but I enjoyed hearing these alternative
performances, which make up in elegance what they slightly lack in fizz.
It isn’t wholly a one-way choice, either: Dream Pictures and several
other pieces actually receive a slightly more sprightly performance on
Beulah and the transfer of what seems to have been a good 1960 original on
the Odéon label is admirable.
I don’t know of any other recordings which Lavard Friisholm made – NB not
Frisholm, as per the Beulah cover – and on the basis of these performances
that’s a shame. From the slender information available in Danish on
Wikipedia he was a violinist as well as a conductor, so it’s not surprising
that the result reminds me of Willi Boskovsky in his heyday at the helm of
the Vienna Phil.
I imagine that most prospective purchasers will be primarily interested in Graduation Ball, here presented in its entirety despite Beulah’s
description of it as a ‘Ballet Suite’. Doráti’s own performance with the
Minneapolis SO remains available on Mercury (2-CD set from Presto only or
download) but the Fistoulari recording makes a very viable and more
complete alternative, otherwise available only on a 2-CD Decca Eloquence
– or as part of a bumper 53-CD box.
Though the Fistoulari recording is in mono only, I truthfully hardly
noticed the transition from 1960 stereo to 1953* mono, so full is the sound
and so good the transfer. There’s a touch of overload occasionally, as at
the climax of track 12, probably the end of an LP side**, but it didn’t
spoil my enjoyment of these very sprightly performances. Sprightly but not
too sprightly: comparing this recording in 1957 with faster performances by
Joseph Levine, Trevor Harvey made the typically acute observation that
Fistoulari’s was ‘Strauss as Strauss is performed in Vienna’. Exactly so.
And lest it be thought that the music sounds better in its original form,
only Perpetuum Mobile exists apart from Graduation Ball: the
other music was taken from unpublished works in the Vienna State Opera
Doráti’s own Minneapolis recording is the classic choice but he cuts the
music to fit one LP side and takes what’s left even faster than Levine –
26:31 against Fistoulari’s 37:41 – and while that’s exciting to listen to
once, as I did via Qobuz, and benefits from Mercury’s renowned recording
quality – actually a tad shrill in the transfer – it’s Fistoulari that wins
the day for me. Even on his later (1976) recording with the Vienna
Philharmonic (Decca Eloquence) Doráti is faster than Fistoulari and less
stylish, despite John Philips’s endorsement in his
of the CD reissue.
All in all I found this an enjoyable follow-up to the New Year’s Day
concert but it’s equally recommendable for any day of the year. I
recommend the Qobuz download in preference to any other: it offers lossless
sound for the same price as others who offer only mp3, often at less than
the full bit-rate.
* Beulah give 1954 as the recording date but the LP (LXT2848) was released
** There’s an extremely inexpensive transfer of Fistoulari’s Graduation Ball on the BnF label, available to download for a mere
£1.39, but the transfer, though decent, is no match for the Beulah. The
BnF transcription of Willi Boskovsky’s 1961 stereo recording with the VPO,
and with very similar tempi to Fistoulari, is worth streaming or
downloading for the same price from