Various: Various

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Various
LABELS: Sony Classical
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Salon Music of the Nineteenth Century
WORKS: Various
PERFORMER: Wolfgang Schulz (flute), Hansjorg Schellenberger (oboe), Rolf Koenen (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: SK 48051 DDD
Listening to this disc is a bit like eating profiteroles; it’s richly delicious, and you can’t help admiring the skill that went into its creation; but after a few mouthfuls you’ve had enough. It’s strange to think that this music was played as background music to social chit-chat; how could anyone have listened to his neighbour while the musical equivalent of juggling was going on at his elbow?

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Leaving that aside, this selection of 19th-century ‘muzak’ is very entertaining – in small doses. The pieces are all designed to display the virtuoso skills of the performer, and following the time-honoured show- biz custom, they start with the simple tricks and save the most impressive ones until the end.

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The three players surmount the technical hurdles with triumphant, almost disdainful ease, and – even more impressively – play with real musicality at the same time. Ivan Hewett