Christian Pollack / Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra

Karel Komzák: Waltzes, Marches & Polkas, Vol. 2

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General Motors could learn a thing or two from the Naxos label and its Marco Polo imprint about getting product to market quickly. This disc of orchestral marches, polkas, and waltzes by Bohemian composer Karel Komzák II, along with a few by his father, was recorded at the Concert Hall of Slovak Radio in June 2005, and just a few months later it was on the streets in the American provinces, with funding in place from something called the Kmoch European Bands Society and well-researched liner notes explaining, among other things, that the younger Komzák's Obstructionspolka referred to a filibuster in the Austrian parliament by conservatives who wanted to deny Czech-language rights to Czech speakers in Bohemia and Moravia. The music is of interest to anyone who likes Johann Strauss Jr. or the orchestral dance music of Central Europe in general, and some of it would have been known even in the U.S. 100 years ago; Warschauer Mäd'ln (Warsaw Girls) was conducted by Komzák II at the St. Louis World's Fair in 1904 under the title "St. Louis Girls." This music doesn't have the rhythmic edge of Strauss, nor its evocative specificity; aside from the filibuster polka the titles mostly have conventional romantic and military themes. Indeed, Komzák's method in many pieces is to juxtapose sharp brass passages with sentimental melodies; he does not sound derivative of Strauss, and he executes this structure in various ways. Several subgenres of this music are represented; in addition to waltzes, polkas, and marches, we have the more refined triple-meter polka française and polka mazurka. The Slovak Radio Symphony under Austrian conductor Christian Pollack gets into the swing of things, and the sound is fine. There should be a decent market for this disc, running from libraries to waltz lovers, and that's what marketing is all about -- getting music quickly to people who didn't know they wanted it.

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