, October 2010
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...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...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 [The Best of Josef Strauss 8.556846 and The Best of Ziehrer 8.556848].