LUMBYE: Complete Orchestral Works, Vol. I (16 waltzes, polkas, galops)
Tivoli Symphony Orchestra, Copenhagen/ Giordano Bellincampi, cond.
Marco Polo 8.223743 (F) (DDD) TT: 69:22

Hans Christian Lumbye (Slonimsky says "loom-bu" as in "rue," with short "o"s rather than long; on site I heard the last syllable pronounced as two, "be-uh") was born between Chopin and Schumann in 1810, and lived until 1874. In 1840 he formed his own orchestra to play light music inspired by the example of Josef Lanner and Johann Strauss the Elder—playing first in the Copenhagen hotel now called d'Angleterre, then in Tivoli when it opened in 1843 until his death. Through touring he became known as "the Strauss of the North," in the same breath that Copenhagen was nicknamed "the Paris of the North." Before Nielsen, he was Denmark's most distinctive and distinguished composer; anyone delighted by the '60s collection of his music on a Capitol stereodisc, conducted by Sven Christian Felumb, or seduced more recently by Gennady Rozhdestvensky on Chandos, won't need further nudging.

Whether all 700 of his works, projected to fill 79 more CDs, will wear out this welcome inaugural remains to be known by those who will live long enough. Certainly the entire output of Johann Strauss Jr. and his younger brother Josef on Marco Polo ended up being excessive. Not everything by Johann II was Blue Danube, Artists' Life or Tales from the Wienerwald, any more than everything by Josef was Die Libelle, Delirien or Village Swallows, great as those works are (perversely you may say, I prefer Josef to his more famous brother). Meanwhile, despite duplication here of the Copenhagen Steam Railway Galop, Champagne Galop, Amélie Waltz and Artist Dreams fantasia among others, the music is a smorrebrod feast washed down with Dansk beer.

Bellincampi, notwithstanding his name and Roman birth in 1965, has lived in Copenhagen since the age of 11, and was trained at the Royal Danish Academy of Music. He is principal guest conductor of the Copenhagen Philharmonic, which becomes the Tivoli Orchestra each summer, and leads Lumbye idiomatically with equal parts poetry, gusto and affection. Engineering by producer Michael Petersen of the Danish Radio staff meets that nation's uncommonly high standard, a world-leader since the 1930s. It is recognizably the Tivoli concert venue from a mid-hall perspective—not quite in your face, transparently clear, admirably emphatic where called for, and a real site rather than some engineering team's multimike counterfeit. You bet recommended!

R.D. (Sept. 1999)