Tchaikovsky: Serenade For Strings, Op. 48

Album cover art for upc 5028421965208
Catalog: BRI96520

Leducq-Barôme, Emmanuel; Baltic Chamber Orchestra; Klychkov, Lev

The second half of the 19th century witnessed a proliferation of significant works for strings alone including the Serenades for Strings by Dvorák (1875) and Tchaikovsky (1880) and Grieg’s Holberg Suite (1884), followed by a trio of works for strings in 1892 from Suk, Wolf and Elgar. Tchaikovsky’s music for string instruments is notable for its range and consistency – and this culminates in the magnificent Violin Concerto and one of the greatest works ever conceived for string orchestra, his Serenade of 1880. Earlier, in 1873, Tchaikovsky wrote incidental music to Ostrovsky’s three-act drama The Snow Maiden. Though he abandoned the idea of adapting it into an opera, when Rimsky-Korsakov composed one on the same subject, he retained affection for this little-known work. Judging by the beautiful Melodrama of Act II, its neglect is unjustified. Eight years before that, as a 25-year-old student at the St Petersburg Conservatory he composed a String Quartet in B flat. If, as some authorities believe, it had four movements, only one has survived. Such is the inner power of the music that it takes on a more expressive hue when performed by a full string orchestra as on this recording. Towards the end of 1884, the Moscow Society of Artists wished to honor veteran actor Ivan Samarin’s 50-year artistic career, and Tchaikovsky enthusiastically contributed a musical entr’acte. Tchaikovsky’s publisher Jurgenson persuaded the composer the music was worthy of publication, under the title Elegy, as Samarin died the year after the celebrations. When Tchaikovsky suddenly died near the end of 1893, the slow movement of his Third String Quartet was arranged for string orchestra by Glazunov for performance at his funeral service. Glazunov’s subtle and sympathetic arrangement of this fine music for full string orchestra honors his friend, the great composer, in truly noble fashion.

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