Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Daniel Barenboim, ECO - Dvořák & Tchaikovsky Serenades For Strings

This is my post from this week's Tuesday Blog.

This week’s Vinyl’s Revenge considers another EMI re-edition from my personal vinyl collection.

As was the case with the Klemperer disc I shared in March, and the Muti/Tchaikovsky disc I shared last year, today’s recording was part of the Angel “Red Label” series of reissues I purchased in the early 1980’s. A fourth disc – Giulini’s recording of the Brahms First Symphony – made it to a Brahms montage on my Friday Podcast series in 2013. Those three discs all had in common the Philharmonia orchestra. Today’s disc features a different orchestra – the English Chamber Orchestra – in a pairing of the Tchaikovsky and Dvorak serenades for strings.

Brahms, Tchaikovsky and Dvorak are contemporaries, and though we freely associate Brahms and Dvorak through their well-documented mutual admiration, we should not overlook that Dvorak and Tchaikovsky share a Slavic heritage and so this coupling of works highlights that connection, as well as a more “spiritual” one. Read on the Internet in an Amazon review of the Karajan coupling of these two serenades:

Isn't there a desire in each of us to lead a more sacred life? To shed materiality and concupiscence, leaving one's face "close to the points of a star"? The string serenades of Dvorak and Tchaikovsky give voice to this aspiration. There is a purity to both works which refreshes the spirit. Transfiguration looms.

If one takes the time to search, one finds a great number of recordings that pair the two serenades – Karajan, Marriner, Colin Davis, Paavo Berglund, and many “manufactured” pairings on a single disc from re-issued performances featuring two orchestras and conductors. The 1974 pairing featured today is conducted by Daniel Barenboim, so dating from an early time where he was equally heard as either a piano recitalist or as a conductor.

In my mind, Barenboim is more at ease in the Germanic repertoire conductor, so this pairing is slightly off the beaten path for him. That having been said, he does provide a proper holistic sense of these works as a pair, and his charges have the required virtuosity to convey the more difficult passages, as well as the contrast in moods between the movements.

I think you will enjoy these!

Antonín DVOŘÁK (1841-1904)
Serenade for Strings in E Major, B. 52 [op. 22]

Pyotr Ilich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893)
Serenade for Strings in C Major, TH 48 [op. 48]

English Chamber Orchestra
Daniel Barenboim, conducting

Angel Records ‎– S-37045
Released: 1974

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