For most listeners, the world of Viennese light music begins with the Strauss family and perhaps a few one-hit wonders otherwise. However, the waltz, polka, march, galop, and so on, were the popular music currency of the day, across a vast empire with millions of inhabitants. The music of Vienna, which was really a mixture of music from across the Austro-Hungarian Empire and beyond, included dozens or hundreds of composers, many of whom were very prolific; several works here have opus numbers in the hundreds. The works on this recording were written between the 1890s and the late 1920s, and if there isn't another Johann Strauss II, there are plenty of imaginative and engaging treatments. Sample Die Wachtparade kommt, Op. 78, by the all-but-unknown Richard Eilenberg, which, like the Fourth of July section of Charles Ives' Holidays Symphony, puts the listener in the place of a parade watcher who is hearing marching bands approach. Along the way, you will get to know such composers as Siegfried Translateur, who died in a Nazi concentration camp, and Karl Kratzl, who died of an insect bite. Much of this music was lost due to World War II bombs or simple neglect, and its resurrection has been, in many cases, the result of work by conductor and Strauss enthusiast John Georgiadis; Georgiadis arranged two pieces heard here from piano scores. Conducting the Czech Chamber Philharmonic, Pardubice, Georgiadis lets the musicians impart some fun and rhythmic zip to the music, which is all to the good. There isn't a dull work among the bunch, and for anyone who likes Strauss, this is an enjoyable 80 minutes. For those interested in European popular culture of the early 20th century, it's essential.
AllMusic Review by James Manheim