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“Waltzes – Marches – Polkas”
Carl Millöcker: Overture in E-Flat major – Ida, polka française – Cyprienne, polka schnell – Sonntagskind waltz – Melitta, polka mazurka – Apajune march – Probekuss waltz – Ringstrasse polka – Eilgut gallop – Carnevalslaunen, polka schnell – Overture to “Der Bettelstudent” – Pizzicato waltz – Quecksilber, polka schnell

Nürnberger Symphoniker, Christian Simonis (conductor)
Recording: Stadthalle Fürst, Musiksaal in der Kongresshalle, Nürnberg, Germany (May 20-22, 2015) – 65’21
cpo # 555 004-2 – Booklet in German and English (Distributed by Naxos of America)

Carl Millöcker may not be a household name, but this Austrian was just as significant in contributing to the ‘Golden Era’ of Viennese operettas as was Franz von Suppé and Johann Strauss Jr. Millöcker was a prolific composer, having created 110 works encompassing operettas, farces and singspiels. This was dovetailed by multitudinous marches, polkas and waltzes. Conductor Christian Simonis reveals in jubilee detail through the expertise of the Nürnberger Symphoniker.

Under the cpo banner this CD summarizes Carl Millöcker’s vast creative energies, each with its own dimension of vivacious novelties. Johann Strauss typically dominates this classical bubbly, but those who’d enjoy a fresh awakening would be well advised to visit “Waltzes – Marches – Polkas.”

The music is in great hands under M. Simonis since this Viennese-born conductor has made a critical importance to classical music by elevating three renowned orchestras to the level of “artistic sustainability.” This career milestone explains why the collection is so pristine, polished and precise.

Each of the 13 compositions has its own storyline, written in pithy detail by Norbert Rubey. [Note: a faux pas exists in the booklet with 14 write-ups...by a process of elimination the Valerie, polka mazurka is absent...the oversight clearly confuses.]

Some pieces which will strike the listener more memorable than others. Thus, the album’s sojourn is an individual experience. Personal fondness centers around the lightness and stately charm of the Ida, polka française, the frolicking Sardou-based polka, Cyprienne, the multi-layered “thoughts” encased within the lengthy Sonntagskind waltz and the stately pomp of the Apajune march, to name a few.

However, two Millöcker works would be definitively placed on the top of the list: the snappy Carnevalslaunen polka and the freshly ingenious Pizzicato waltz following Strauss’ own famous Pizzicato polka 10 years earlier. This all-strings rarity shines with feathery lightness and impressions with its own musical savoir-faire.

Perhaps best known is the Overture from the operetta, Der Bettlestudent, yet the tempo really seems to lag, especially when comparing this to the outstanding Mörbisch 2013 production.

Christie Grimstad




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