David's Review Corner
, June 2009
“The works that the Schwanen Salon Orchestra has sought out for these recordings are still living; the composers do not deserve to be completely forgotten”. So the sleeve note writer informs us, though I doubt whether the names of Dvořák, Elgar, Massenet, Josef Strauss, Waldteufel, Leoncavallo, Leroy Anderson or Kreisler are on the brink of oblivion. All feature in the 30 tracks on two well-filled discs. The note also informs us that “the Schwanen Salon Orchestra holds a clear position: no trumpets or jazz saxophone, simply two clarinets, a flute and string group”. I wonder what devious person smuggled a pianist, saxophonist and a drummer into these recording sessions, and do I hear an accordion? There are a few seldom heard composers, including Gerhard Winkler, Edgardo Donato and Peter Kreuder but I guess the sleeve note writer didn’t know them either, as he ignores them in his one page of notes. Pity for the Schwanen belong to that group of ‘orchestras’ that flourished in the 1920’s and 30’s playing in elegant hotels, restaurants, spa towns and seaside resorts. Particularly popular in the UK, I once played drums in the school holiday to earn pocket money with the young pianist the girl I married. Happy days, few now remain. So this is a trip into nostalgia, sit back and enjoy Toselli’s Serenata, Denza’s Funiculi, Funicula, Oscar Straus’s A Waltz Dream and the charming Harlequin’s Millions from Riccardo Drigo, and you can briefly return to yesteryear. The arrangements are functional, the performances are spirited, and solos elegantly played under the direction of Georg Huber.