Budapest Strauss Ensemble

Wedding Celebrations

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Despite its title, this disc of festive music is not especially connected to wedding celebrations and should not be mistaken as a bridal sampler. Instead, the program is a survey of nineteenth century polkas, waltzes, and marches drawn from Viennese and French operettas and the dance repertoire of salon orchestras. Buoyant pieces by members of the celebrated Strauss family and Jacques Offenbach are presented side-by-side with music by less famous but industrious composers, such as Johann Schrammel, Jakob Pazeller, and Iosif Ivanovici. This even-handed approach to programming gives a reasonably accurate impression of the music of the times and displays the uneven mix of excellence and triteness that surely existed then. István Bogár's arrangements for the Budapest Strauss Ensemble are consistent and unpretentious, and he blends the elegance of the ball with the more mundane sounds of Austro-Hungarian light music. Notably, Bogár includes the accordion and various band instruments, such as the saxophone, to suggest the ad hoc nature of the period's ensembles. While a few pieces are exceptionally well known -- Wein, Weib und Gesang by Johann Strauss II and the rambunctious Can Can from La vie parisienne by Offenbach are two standouts -- they do not draw inordinate attention to themselves in their modest presentation here.

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