Lumbye - Festival At Tivoli / Rozhdestvensky, Et Al
The Danish composer Hans Christian Lumbye came from a military background and was taught to play the violin and trumpet at an early age. In 1839 he heard the music of Johann Strauss the elder during a visit to Copenhagen made by a Viennese orchestra. This proved to be a lasting influence and one that is abundantly evident in many of the works on this disc. Though Lumbye’s music lacks a truly original voice, it is nevertheless consistently delightful listening.
The most famous piece is "Købehavns Jernbane Damp Galop" or the "Copenhagen Steam Railway Galop" – an unforgettable four minute ride. With the exception of Drømmebilleder and Amélie Vals, all the pieces given here are miniatures but these two more extended works fully justify their extra length. Lumbye could certainly write a good tune and for about thirty years he did just that for the patrons of Copenhagen’s music halls. In 1843 "Tivoli and Vauxhall", an amusement park which was opened and Lumbye became its music director, a position he held until shortly before his death.
This well-chosen program covers most of Lumbye’s career and two works reflect a sabbatical taken in St. Petersburg in 1850. There is also a Polonaise with Cornet solo which dates from fairly early in his career and for which I presume Lumbye would have taken the solo part. With Champagne Galops complete with popping corks to start and finish, the program has the feel of a New’s Year day concert with a difference.
Gennady Rozhdestvensky’s association with the Danish Radio Symphony Orchestra appears to have been on a guest basis. He seems a slightly surprising choice for this repertoire until you put the disc on when it rapidly becomes clear that he was enjoying himself as much as the players. The readings therefore sound completely idiomatic and they are backed up by excellent, atmospheric sound from the early 90s. The various extra musical effects (e.g. the train guard’s voice in the Steam Railway Galop) are captured most realistically. The documentation is detailed and informative with the Danish titles on the liner (as given above) being translated in the booklet.
Anyone who likes the music of the Strauss family should also try some Lumbye. There is quite a substantial series on Marco Polo (currently running to 11 volumes) but a single disc selection will suffice for most people. At mid-price this one will be very hard to beat given its all round excellence. There is a bargain price collection with an overlapping program on Regis conducted by Peter Guth and the Odense Symphony Orchestra. At least some of that I have heard in a previous incarnation and, although it was good, Rozhdestvensky’s collection is well worth a little extra money. This is a most worthwhile reissue of charm-laden music which should cheer you up on a cold winter’s day.
Patrick C Waller
Catalog Number: CHAN 10354 X
Composer: Hans Christian Lumbye
Conductor: Gennadi Rozhdestvensky
Orchestra/Ensemble: Danish National Orchestra
Performer: Anton Kontra, Kim Sjögren