Composer: Antonín Dvorak
Orchestra: Academy of St. Martin in the Fields
Conductor: Neville Marriner
Number of Discs: 1
Format: FLAC (tracks+cue)
Size: 190 MB
Serenade for Strings in E major, Op. 22
II. Tempo di valse
III. Scherzo: Vivace
V. Finale: Allegro vivace
Serenade for Wind in D minor, Op. 44
I. Moderato, quasi marcia
II. Minuetto: Tempo di minuetto
III. Andante con moto
IV. Finale: Allegro molto
Marriner and the Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields made their name principally in the 80s and 90s for their no-nonsense, back-to-basics performances of 18th century music.Gone would be all the trappings of 19th century romanticism, strict tempi, little if any vibrato, no slush. Even now they are one of the few ensembles who devoted themselves mainly to music for the Chamber orchestra, but surely this approach would never work with pieces by the mainstream romantics, in particular Dvorak’s nostalgic, even sentimental, Serenade for Strings?
This performance is breath of pure Bohemian fresh air. If I may draw an analogy, it is like seeing an old master you have long admired but felt rather in awe of, stripped of its old varnish, despoiled of its centuries of dust and grime and for the first time revealed as a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT PAINTING. Sure, the nostalgia is still there but gone, miraculously, is the sentimentality. Marriner takes Dvorak back, to where I am sure he would have been very happy to go, to his country roots and this performance is an utter delight. A side effect of underplaying the emotionality is that the final movement becomes unbelieveably dramatic and the reintroduction of the opening theme is well, if you’d empahasised it more, it would have worked so much less. Even if you’re used to a much “richer” playing style, you can’t help but love this performance.
Crazy for Classical.
Though I’m a fan of Dvorak’s music I hadn’t heard the Serenade Op.22, until it was part of the sound track of an episode of “Mozart in the Jungle” on Amazon. I still prefer hard copies of my music, so I checked out several versions on Amazon and went with The Academy of St. Martin in the Fields / Neville Mariner CD. They usually make great music.
I couldn’t be more pleased with the music, the quality of the recording and performance. For me, it was worth the cost of the physical CD, rather than a digital download. Both Serenades are wonderful to listen to.