Salon Orchestra Favourites, Vol. 1 (Georg Huber/ Schwanen Salon Orchestra) (Naxos: 8.554756)
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Salon OrchestraFavourites - Pearls of European salon music
At the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth centurysalon music was a phenomenon that could be found all over Europe. Following thetrail blazed by the triumphal processions of legendary virtuosos such as theItalian violinist Niccol?? Paganini (1782-1840), the Polish pianist FredericChopin (1810-?¡1849) and the Austro-Hungarian pianist Franz Liszt (1811-1886) orthe French cellist Adrien-Fran?ºois Servais (1807-1866), a musical culturedeveloped which transcended all national boundaries. But only selected exampleswere passed on to the concert-halls of posterity; most of this music, if itsurvived at all, was doomed to an underground existence, for the preservers ofpure music took exception to the increasing emphasis laid on commercialaspects. Nevertheless, it would hardly be exaggerating to say that salon musicwas simply the reaction to new socio-economic circumstances. A growing market,in which direct means of musical reproduction were still unknown, had to besupplied with compositions which were so easy on the ear that the mass sale ofprinted music could be guaranteed by virtue of this alone. In thesecircumstances widespread popularity could only be to advantage, nationalcolouring providing at best an additional breath of exoticism. Later eras haveadopted the prejudicial view that this process inevitably produced works ofinferior quality, a prejudice which can be refuted by this collection of someof these pearls.
The Italian-born composer Luigi Arditi (1822-1903) was an internationalEuropean par excellence, whose career as violinist and conductor led him allover the continent (and even to America). To name just the most importantstages: in 1857 he conducted in Constantinople (today Istanbul) and in 1858 inLondon. From 1871 to 1873 he directed the Italian opera in St Petersburg. Aftera short stay in Madrid in 1878 he lived in London again for several years, thenmoved to Dublin, where he died.
Arditi's ceuvre is in two ways characteristic of the conditionsgoverning composers' careers from the second half of the nineteenth centuryonwards. On the one hand he made free use of idioms other than his own - in theexample on this recording the Italian composed a brilliant Viennese waltz. Andon the other hand he is an example of the fickleness of fame: whereas Arditiwas one of the most popular and well-known composers of his time, today he isknown only to the connoisseurs among devotees of salon music.
This fate is shared by several of his colleagues: for example the Czechcomposer Frantisek Alois (Franz) Drdla (1869-1944), like Arditi a violinvirtuoso and composer, whose fame was ensured above all through his SerenadeNo. 1 ("Kubelik-Serenade") composed in 1901;his countryman Zdenĕk Fibich (1850-1900), whose Po?¿me, Op. 4 No. 6,was originally composed for piano, but has appeared in innumerable otherarrangements all over the world; or even the Russian pianist and composer ofPolish origin Anton Rubinstein (1829-1894), who founded the St PetersburgConservatoire in 1862, composed operas and symphonies which were received byhis contemporaries with enthusiasm but today is only remembered as the composerof the Melodie in F major, Op. 3 No. 1. Ruggero Leoncavallo(1858-1926), the composer of the opera Pagliacci which is still populartoday, does not fare much better either. His countryman Enrico Toselli(1883-1926), in contrast, became world-famous on two counts. However, while thepianist's marriage to Princess Louise, at the time crown princess of Saxony,has long since ceased to attract attention, his Serenata still belongsto the evergreens of the salon music repertoire.
Salon music waschiefly music for the grand piano in the salon (or more frequently: the uprightpiano in the drawing-room) - whether it was arrangements of orchestral works,operas or operatic excerpts, or (as was quite frequently the case) originalcompositions. Like Rubinstein's Melodie or Toselli's Serenata, theTango by Isaac Albeniz (1860-1909) was also composed for piano, as wasthe Paso doble El relicario by his countryman Jose Padilla (1889-1960).
In all these cases arrangements for other instruments or groups of instruments- arrangements made by the composer himself or by various different arrangersin the course of the decades - were the rule rather than the exception. Theconsequence of this variety is an astonishing colourfulness of instrumentation.
In Leoncavallo's Brise de mer it is the cello that takes the leadingrole; in contrast, Robert Stolz lets the violin dominate in accordance with thetitle, whereas Heinrich Strecker's foxtrot Drunt' in der Labau from theoperetta Der ewige Walzer ('The Eternal Waltz', first performed in 1928)presents itself in truly symphonic richness of sound, to name just a fewexamples.
For the salonorchestra Schwanen, whose melodic line is characterized by violins andwoodwind, special arrangements were made of Arditi's "Kiss Waltz" Ilbacio, Riccardo Drrigo's Serenade Harlequin's Millions and RudolfSieczynski's declaration of love to his home city of Vienna.
Translation: Diana Laos